The U.S. Marine Corps is now searching through its records and photographs from World War II trying to confirm the identities of the 5 marines and navy corpsman photographed raising the American flag on Iwo Jima in 1945.
This comes after a column published in the Omaha World-Herald shed light on the world of amateur historians who noticed inconsistencies in some photographs of that day. Reporter Kevin Boughton has more on the Omaha connection to one of the most-famous photographs of all time.
Iwo Jima, 1945. Weeks of horrendous fighting led to the most famous photograph of World War 2. The government identified the 6 men raising the Stars and Stripes over Mount Suribachi as: Ira Hayes, Michael Strank, Rene Gagnon, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and John Bradley. That's been the official story since the end of the war.
"A lot of times I think the way that truth or facts work is that after a certain period of time they're cemented in place." And certain of that record: John Bradley's son, James, wrote the book "Flags of our Fathers". Clint Eastwood directed the 2006 movie. But in 2014 amateur historian Eric Krelle, from Omaha, approached World-Herald columnist Matthew Hansen with evidence that John Bradley might not be in the photo after all. Skeptical, Hansen agreed to meet Krelle for coffee. 15 minutes at the most. "And I ended up staying there 3 hours."
Krelle, and another amateur historian from Ireland, Stephen Foley uncovered inconsistencies in Bradley's appearance in the famous photo and other pictures from the day. Concluding: this isn't Bradley, but a previously unidentified marine: Harold Schultz. "Its ironic and also a little uncomfortable , I think, uncomfortable for the amateur historians and uncomfortable for Bradley's son who has done more than anyone to popularize this really amazing story." It took Bradley about two years to eventually publicly acknowledge the discrepancy, telling NBC News it's probably not his dad. Now the military is investigating. "To me it's a story of how truth and facts can be really really strange thing." And how curiosity and persistence could re-write history.
The Marine Corps says it will use its own battle footage, along with photo enhancements and film analysis from the Smithsonian. There's no word on how long the investigation will take. We should note that Bradley did raise the first flag that day.