History of the Iwo Jima flag raising picture

Pulitzer Prize winning picture / Romney Smith

It's a Pulitzer Prize winning picture that was shot during the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. MCLB Deputy Public Affairs Officer Captain Kyle Thomas says in one word the picture is iconic.

"This iconic photo that you see here, this was taken only four days into the fight and it was taken by an individual by the name of Joe Rosenthal who was an Associated Press photographer that made daily visits to the battle" says Thomas.

There was a particular reason Marines wanted to take Mt. Suribachi first. "The Japanese would use that to spot targets so if they wanted to call an indirect fire on marines they could do so from that position. So that's why it was very important, that was really the eyes for the Japanese forces on that island. They could see across the whole island if they kept it" says Thomas. But the Japanese didn't keep Mt. Suribachi, the Marines won, but the battle wasn't over - especially for the men in the picture. "This was only the 4th day into a 35-long day fight and they continued to fight after this and half of this squad did not survive the battle itself" says Thomas. Block, Sousley, and Strank didn't make it out of the war alive.

The picture went on to become the inspiration for the monument near Arlington National Cemetery. Thomas says its purpose is so anytime someone sees it, they see hope and the Marine Corps spirit. "This picture really epitomizes that idea of marines don't quit, no matter how hard it is, no matter the uphill fight, no matter what lies in front of us - we're going to get to the top and we're going to raise the flag" says Thomas.