world war ii: iwo jima

On February 23, 1945 (72 years ago today) a 40-man patrol of U.S. Marines, not knowing if they would reach the top or not, summited the 545-foot extinct, volcano of Mount Suribachi and raised the first American flag over Japanese soil. Later, a second Marine patrol reached the top and raised a second, larger flag so the entire island could see the stars and stripes waving in the wind. Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, who witnessed the flag raising said, “The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.”

On February 23, 1945 (72 years ago today) a small U.S. flag was first raised atop Mount Suribachi soon after the mountaintop was captured at around 10:20 am. 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier, executive officer of Easy Company, volunteered to lead a 40-man combat patrol up the mountain. Lt. Col. Johnson, the battalion commander, handed Schrier a flag saying, “If you get to the top put it up.” The patrol carried that 54-by-28-inch flag, which had been taken from the battalion’s transport ship, the USS Missoula, and up to the slopes of the extinct volcano. Lt. Schrier successfully led the combat patrol to the top. The flag was attached to a pipe, and the flagstaff was raised, marking the first time in history the American flag was raised on Japanese soil. The moment was captured by U.S. Marine Corps photographer, SSgt. Lou Lowery.

There was a roar from the Marines and sailors off shore and on the island, and the blasts of the ship horns alerted the Japanese, who up to this point had stayed in their cave bunkers. The Marines and corpsmen on Mt. Suribachi found themselves under fire from Japanese troops, but Schrier’s Marines were able quickly to eliminate the threat.

telegraph.co.uk
US Marines admit one of the men identified in Iwo Jima photo was the wrong man - as details emerge of real hero who took story to his grave
The US Marines have resolved a longstanding question mark over the identities of the men in an iconic photograph from Iwo Jima, revealing the story of a Midwestern Private who went to his grave without ever claiming his role.

The US Marines have resolved a longstanding question mark over the identities of the men in an iconic photograph from Iwo Jima, revealing the story of a Midwestern Private who went to his grave without ever claiming his role.

The Marines on Thursday concluded an investigation that found Harold Schultz, a private first class with the Marines, was almost certainly one of the men seen raising the flag atop Mount Suribachi during a fierce battle between American and Japanese forces in 1945.

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60 years ago in April 1954, first baseman Tom Alston became the first African-American player to wear the Birds on the Bat. Six weeks after Alston’s debut, the Cardinals called up a 30-year old righthander from Triple-A Columbus. On May 31st, 1954, Bill Greason became the first black pitcher in Cardinals franchise history. Bill’s pitching career in St. Louis was brief – he appeared in only three total games before being sent back to Columbus. He spent another six years in the Cardinals minor league system and upon retirement from baseball, he began another storied phase of his life as a pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham.

The Reverend Bill Greason has worn many hats and seen a lot of history in his long and storied life. A native of Atlanta, GA, Reverend Greason grew up as a child in the same neighborhood as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reverend Greason was a Montford Point Marine, part of the storied detachment that landed on Iwo Jima in World War II. He was among the Marines honored in Washington in 2012 with our nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal.

He played for five years in the Negro Leagues, and was a teammate of Willie Mays on the Negro American League Champion Birmingham Black Barons of 1948. In 1952, he broke the Oklahoma professional sports color barrier when he took the mound for the AAA Oklahoma City Indians.

Reverend Greason’s career on the mound for the Cardinals may have been brief, but he has a very significant place in franchise history as a pioneer and trailblazer.

On September 21, 2014, the Cardinals honored Rev. Greason before the game and celebrated his special role in the history of our great franchise.

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The Indestructible Jack Lucas,

In 1942 Jacklyn H. Lucas enlisted in the Marine Corps, not an unusual thing to do during World War II, but certainly unusual at the age of 14.  A boy who looked much older than his years, Lucas claimed he was 17, forged his mother’s signature, and was inducted into the Corps no questions asked.  Jack Lucas underwent Marine Corps training at Parris Island and qualified as a sharpshooter and heavy machine gunner.  However after training, Lucas was sent from one menial assignment to the next, first in the lower 48, then at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

By 1945 Lucas was becoming bored with peaceful service, and on January 10th he went AWOL and stowed away on a ship bound for Iwo Jima.  Despite going AWOL, Lucas was given a combat assignment and attached to the 5th Marine Division.

Upon hitting the beaches Lucas and his fellow Marines were sprayed with murderous Japanese gunfire.  Perhaps the only Marine to invade Iwo Jima unarmed, Lucas immediately picked up a rifle and returned fire. During the battle, it was his squad’s duty to clear out a machine gun nest near a deep ravine.  It was then that a grenade landed in the middle of his squad.  Without thinking, Lucas leaped upon the grenade, determined to use his body as shield to protect his comrades.  Then another grenade landed nearby.  Lucas grabbed that grenade as well, and stuffed it under his torso.  When the two grenades exploded his body was thrown into the air.  Amazingly, Lucas was still alive, though seriously wounded.  Covered from head to toe with shrapnel wounds, Lucas was evacuated to a hospital ship.  Over the next seven months of recovery, Lucas would undergo 21 surgeries to remove 250 pieces of shrapnel from his body.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions (the youngest Marine to receive the award), as well as the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

After the war, Jack Lucas returned home, resumed his education as a ninth grader, graduated high school, and graduated college with a business degree.  He married three times.  His marriage with his second wife didn’t go so well, as she hired a hitman to kill him.  Fortunately he was able to fend off the attack.

In 1961, he rejoined the military, this time joining the US Army and becoming a paratrooper so that he could “conquer his fear of heights”.  During a training jump, his two parachutes failed to open, and he fell 3,500 feet before slamming into the ground.  Miraculously, despite screaming to the earth at terminal velocity, Lucas walked away from the accident unscathed.  From 1961 to 1965, Lucas served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne.  When he finally retired he had risen to the rank of captain.

Jack Lucas died of Leukemia in 2008 at the age of 80.  His Medal of Honor and citation is currently sealed within the hull of the USS Iwo Jima.