Two Flags Over Iwo Jima: Solving the Mystery of the U.S. Marine Corps' Proudest Moment


The saga of the flags on Iwo Jima has fascinated America for decades. Hammel himself grew up in the company of WWII veterans and has always been intrigued by 'The Photo' of the flag, which became a powerful symbol of patriotism and national pride. But the story of how the flag got there, and even the identity of the soldiers in the photo, has been muddied by history. Eric Hammel here sets the record straight, viewing complex events through the lens of the story of the infantry company in which all the flag raisers served.

Joe Rosenthal's "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" photo is one of the best-known images of US war history. The photo captures the moment that the first American flag flew over the core of Imperial Japanese territory on the top of Mount Suribachi. The focus of this book lies on the 28th Marine Regiment's self-contained battle in February 1945 for Mount Suribachi, the 556-foot-high volcano on Iwo Jima. It was here that this one regiment defeated more than 1500 heavily armed Japanese combatants who were determined to hold the highest vantage point on the island.

Two Flags over Iwo Jima reveals the all-but-forgotten first-flag raising and the aftermath of the popularization campaign undertaken by the post-WWII Marine Corps and national press. Hammel attempts to untangle the various battles which lead up to the first and second flag raisings, as well as following the men of the 28th Marine Regiment in the events which took place after. Not only is the full story behind one of the most iconic photographs ever taken revealed, but also the real heroism and stories of the men behind this most fervent expression of American patriotism.


This book is for the person or persons that are truly interested in the story behind the two Flag being raised on Iwo Jima that day. That day is four days after the invasion. The author will take you behind the scenes into why it was and is important. Iwo being the first Japanese held soil that we raised the flag on. The reason why we felt it was necessary to take the island, for the length of it for B-29’s could land there too and from bombing raids being made on Japan. The hill 556 was taken and the first flag went up, but after it went up Lt. Colonel Chandler Johnson wanted that flag brought back down and a bigger flag put up instead. Men needed to retake the hill once again because of the interlocking tunnels that were placed prior to the invasion. Once the flag went a photo was taken by Joe Rosenthal and that photo is the one that would become famous. The first flag raising a Marine photographer Staff Sgt. Lou Lowery missed the raising of the flag because he was changing the film in his camera. He did take some photos of before and after. The author discusses what happens to some of the men and if they were wounded or killed in action. Any medals they were awarded and the citations along with them. The part of the book deals with some people who years ago because of the age of computers felt that it was necessary to try and get all of the people correct. At the end of the book, the author puts in the finding and recommendation of the Navy to have names change of the first photo and second. The author also speaks about why Mr. Bradley did not come forward and say he was not in the photo. First I would like to say that as a son of a WWII VET, we don’t know that he didn’t. At that time the U.S did need more money for the war and bond drive was down. This photo and anyway that they the government could put any kind of face with it was going to draw money which it did. Second Ira the Native American Marine did not want to leave his unit, his guys but was ordered to go back to the states, not to his home but on this tour. So I really don’t think it would have made a difference one way or another. Mr. Bradley along with the other two still was not able to return home until they the government said they were done, he did not get married until after he got home, and he never spoke about it again for as much as we know. I grantee you through any Marine who was there with Bradley and him seeing anyone from Iwo had a bound that know else could touch and that was more than having your name at the bottom of the photo. Like my father with the 82nd there was a special bond with the men he went into battle with and when he spoke about it a few times there was a different look in his eyes. Overall a good book if you don’t know the backstory about the Flag on Iwo and the brave men who stormed the black volcanic beach on Feb 19, 1945 – March 26, 1945. I received this book from I gave it 4 stars. Follow us at

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