Watch CBSN Live

Marines say soldier in iconic Iwo Jima photo was misidentified – again

The Marine Corps has corrected the identity of another of the men who were photographed raising the American flag at Iwo Jima during World War II. The Marines said in a statement Thursday that after questions were raised by private historians who studied photos and films, it determined that Corporal Harold P. Keller was among the six men who raised the flag.

The Marines say Private First Class Rene Gagnon had helped in the effort but for decades was mistakenly identified by the Marines as one of the flag-raisers.

US Marines raise American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima
US Marines raise American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 1945/2/23. Photo taken by Joe Rosenthal. AP Photo

Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal shot the iconic photograph atop Mount Suribachi during an intense battle between American and Japanese forces in 1945. The first raising is actually not the one depicted in the now-famous picture. The first flag was taken down, and Rosenthal took a picture as a second flag was raised.

In 2016, the Marines corrected the identity of another man in the photo after historians raised questions.

Marines admit man in iconic Iwo Jima photo was misidentified

NBC News, which first reported on the Marines' decision, says Keller died in 1979 in Grinnell, Iowa. Gagnon died in 1979 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite reported on the flag-raising during a special report covering the battle. "On the fifth day, the Marines take Mount Suribachi," he said.

The battle for Iowa Jima was one of the bloodiest of WWII. U.S. forces began the fight for the Japanese island of Iwo Jima on February 19th, which lasted for over a month. By the time the battle came to an end on March 26th, almost 7,000 American lives had been lost and 20,000 more were injured.  

View CBS News In