Marines admit they misidentified one man in iconic 1945 Iwo Jima photo

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima during WWII.

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps admitted Thursday that it misidentified one of the six men in the World War II photograph of a flag raising at Iwo Jima — one of the most iconic images in American history.

For more than 70 years, history said John Bradley, a Navy hospital corpsman, was one of the six men seen in the legendary photo from one of the war’s bloodiest battles.

According to The New York Daily News, the Marines now say Bradley is nowhere in the photo — and the man believed to be Bradley is, in fact, Harold Schultz, a private first class.

Schultz’s stepdaughter said he knew he was the man in the photo — but kept that history-changing fact to himself, save for one time he suddenly broke the news at a family dinner a few years before his death.

“My mom was distracted and not listening and Harold said, ‘I was one of the flag raisers,’” Dezreen MacDowell told The New York Times.

“I said, ‘My gosh, Harold, you’re a hero.’ he said, ‘No, I was a Marine.’ After he said that, it was clear he didn’t want to talk about it.”

Schultz worked as a mail carrier after the war and died in 1995 — with the flag photo in his belonging.

Schultz’s stepdaughter said he knew he was the man in the photo — but kept that history-changing fact to himself, save for one time he suddenly broke the news at a family dinner a few years before his death.

 

Bradley earned relative fame for his reported appearance in the photo, which was taken on Feb. 23, 1945. He was centrally featured in “Flags of Our Fathers,” a book co-written by his son James Bradley, which Clint Eastwood adapted into a 2006 film.

But Bradley consistently turned down interview requests through his lifetime and rarely spoke about his supposed spot in a historic snapshot.

Bradley’s appearance in the photo came into question after Stephen Foley, an amateur historian in Ireland, noticed some discrepancies while analyzing the photo during his recovery from an operation. He and Eric Krelle, a Marine historian from Nebraska started probing the photo, leading the Marine Corps to open its own investigation in May.

Foley and Krelle said the man believed to be Bradley was wearing a cartridge belt with ammunition pouches and wire cutters — which a Navy corpsman would not have had. They also said photos from the same day showed Bradley in different clothing.

Foley and Krelle were the first to say Schultz was the sixth man.

After questions about the photo arose two years ago, Bradley’s son admitted he was no longer sure if his father was there. He said his father was involved in a different flag-raising, and may have mistakenly believed for the rest of his life he was in the Iwo Jima image.

A documentary about the photo probe, “The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima,” will debut on the Smithsonian Channel July 3.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.