Man who raised 1st Iwo Jima flag dies

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Charles W. Lindberg, one of the U.S. Marines who raised the first American flag over Iwo Jima during World War II, has died. He was 86.

Lindberg, who died Sunday in Edina, Minn., spent years explaining that it was his patrol, not the one in the famous Associated Press photograph by Joe Rosenthal, that raised the first flag there.

On Feb. 23, 1945, Lindberg and five other Marines fought their way to the top of Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi. He was awarded the Silver Star for bravery.

“Two of our men found this big, long pipe there,” he said in 2003. “We tied the flag to it, took it to the highest spot we could find and we raised it. Down below, the troops started to cheer, the ship’s whistles went off - it was just something that you would never forget,” he said.

The moment was captured by Sgt. Lou Lowery, a photographer from the Marine Corps.

By Lindberg’s account, his commander ordered the first flag replaced and safeguarded because he worried that someone would take it as a souvenir. Lindberg was back in combat when six men raised the second, larger flag about four hours later.

Rosenthal’s photo of the second flag-raising became one of the most enduring images of the war and the model for the U.S. Marine Corps memorial.

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Vernon Clayson - 6/27/2007

Why did the AP stoop so low as to make the death of a man the reason to mount again a phony controversy from a long ago event. Was it to lessen the image, the statue, and the event, even the men that were involved, that's my guess. It's long been recognized that the second flag raising became the primary image so what of it? The passing of the old Marine, Charles Lindberg, should have been noted, flag issue aside, as being a veteran of that terrible battle, surviving something that over 4500 of his Marine and Navy mates didn't. Their courage was praised by the media of that day and the president was not faulted, unlike today when the media chooses to view the military as inept and the president personally at fault for everything bad that transpires. And, worst of all, no success is ever reported - it's as if nothing good happens in the eyes of the media.