To: Chuck Tatum <firstname.lastname@example.org>, GunnyG <GunnyG@gmail.com>, Roger Rabbit <email@example.com>, greg latino <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Ray Fornof <email@example.com>, Tom Farrell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Dec 31, 2005 4:44 PM
Subject: Fw: Iwo Jima flag raisers
Interesting.I'm not sure where to go with this.Larry Ryan was with F Company.I can't recall a face to go with the name.I just don't remember him or why he would be there.Semper Fi,Ray.
----- Original Message -----
From: Joseph Kobylski
To: John Kelly
Sent: Sunday, June 26, 2005 5:14 PM
Subject: Iwo Jima flag raisers
Dear Mr. Kelly,
Reference is made to your e-mail of June 14 saying that the material that I sent you about the subject had been misplaced and asking me to comment by e-mail about what is local about the story I sent and to sketch out the details in an e-mail. Here goes.
I am local. I have lived in the Hyattsville, MD, area for more than 50 years and have worked as an auditor in the U.S. General Accounting Office headquarter's in D.C. for 30 years. What is local also is my extensive effort to attract media attention to Private Larry Ryan, from Wisconsin, who claimed to be and was not credited as one of the Iwo flag raisers in the famous photo by Joe Rosenthal that boosted our Nation's morale during WWII. In addition, the Iwo Jima Memorial of the flag raising and Marine Corps Headquarters are in the metro area.
Many years ago Mr. Ryan contacted the Marine Corps historian about his role and that of others who were said to have been the flag raisers. He also contacted Col. Dave Severance, who led E Company on Iwo and whose members were said to be the flag raisers. Larry was with F Company. Both belittled and disregarded his claim. Then in October 1998 James Bradley, son of flag raiser John Bradley, was the main speaker at a reunion of Iwo veterans in Peoria, Ill., and was in the process of gathering material for a book about his father and the other flag raisers. It appears that James Bradley left no stone unturned in his quest, except one, Private Ryan. Larry Ryan called him and said that he was with his father at the time that the flag was raised and an arrangement was made for an interview. But Bradley did not show up even though he stayed in a hotel room only a few doors away from Larry's room. Imagine, a man whose father told him nothing about the battle for Iwo Jima chose not to interview a Marine who associated with his father at the time of the flag raising. Unbelievable! Obviously, Larry was disappointed again. James Bradley went on to write his book, "Flags of Our Fathers", and it became a best seller that was issued in May 2000.
In February 2000 I was able to get an article published in the Post about the bravery of a fellow Marine. Buoyed by that success I asked Larry if he wanted me to try to get his story known. He said "sure." Larry's background was one of being a hard working brick layer and was not into writing letters to support his claim. I prepared a draft of what he told me, presented information about the circumstances in naming the flag raisers by the Marine Corps and others, and said that Bradley's book was in error. Larry was pleased after his review and suggested a few minor changes. I sent the letter to numerous major newspapers in the Country as well as other rmedia sources, including the History Channel and other TV outlets, requesting that they interview Mr. Ryan and that he was willing to take a polygraph test to validate his claim. How many others who named the flag raisers offered to do the same? I venture to say - none. Its sad to say not one responded. This was on only concerted effort made on Larry's behalf. It is disconcerting to find that people will listen to someone like author Bradley, who wasn't even born at that time, and no one cares to talk to someone like Private Ryan who was at the site at the time of the flag raising, a significant historical event.
I contacted History Channel and asked that it interview Private Ryan about two months before it aired a story about the flag raising. It failed to do so, but James Bradley was prominantly interviewed on the TV program.
Why not. James Bradley was the author of a bestselling book while Larry Ryan was just a grunt at the flag raising site. The History Channel's program did no serve history very well. But then again, there's no business like show business.
The Marine Corps management paid virtually no attention to the raisers of the second flag, which replaced a smaller flag that flew for a few hours. Their interest seemed to have been with the first and much less known flag. Yet they had plenty of time to identify the flag raisers in a timely manner because our Regiment was in reserve for about a week before it swung north into battle. The flags were raised on the fifth day of the battle, which lasted for thirty six days. After the battle resumed, three of the six flag raisers were killed in action, not knowing of their celebrity.
An effort was made in Hawaii to identify the flag raisers about sixty days after the flag raising, where our Division trained for the invasion of Japan. I was told that the interest arose because Preslident Roosevelt took an interest in the flag raising and that there was a saving bonds tour that was upcoming.
At a Iwo veterans reunion in Washington D.C. in February 2000 I spoke with General Fred Haynes, who ran the reunion. General Haynes was a Captain in our Regiment on Iwo. I asked questions about the identification of the flag raisers and said that it must have been difficult to name them. He said it was very difficult because the photograph was like an "unknown soldiers photograph" in that only one face was shown, and that one only partially so. That particular Marine was said to be John Bradley. General Haynes it was difficult to identify that figure as John Bradley. Larry Ryan, who was with Bradley at the time, said emphatically that Bradley, who was in fact one of the flag raisers, was not in that position in the photograph.
In a book by an Iwo veterain, flagraiser Franklin Sousley is described as the second figure from the left in the Rosenthal photo and it states that he landed on the beach as a B.A.R. man. (Browning Automatic Rifle, a rather cumbersome weapon to carry.) Yet that person shown in the photo which was taken only a few days later was carrying an M1 Garand Rifle, standard fare for riflemen on Iwo, and not a B.A.R. Has the Marine Corps ever explained this apparent discrepancy? This is not to say Sousley was not one of the flag raisers. Franklin Sousley may very well have been one but in another position in that group. Larry Ryan contended the it is he, Ryan, who is carrying the M1 rifle.
I am proud to have served in the Marine Corps. But truth is infinately more important to me than image. Truth, like free speech, is one of the great ideals for which our Nation stands.
Now we have Clint Eastwood, Oscar-winning movie director, whose next project is to begin filming "Flags of Our Fathers" later this year, based on James Bradley's book. I sure would like to send him the same packet of materials that I am sending to you again but by certified mail in the hope that it will not get lost. Perusal of the material should answer other questions that you may have and it adds other interesting details about the story. If Clintwood's movie adheres to James Bradley's book it may repeat the same errors cited above. Moreover, he and his staff should be aware of the circumstances under which the flag raisers were named, which were greatly prone to error and uncertainty. How can I reach him and his writers so that they would avoid some myths about a significant historical event? I will gladly send the same packet of materials to anyone who has the means or method to publicize Private Ryan's story. All they have to do is send me a request by e-mail.
Mr. Kelly, I know that you are a very busy person, but I surely hope that you will write a column about Mr. Ryan, who I believe without reservation. Given the extensive distribution of The Washington Post, that would go a long way for Mr. Ryan to leave a deserving legacy to his family and grandchildren.
Your effort will be appreciated.
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
GyG's Globe and Anchor! --Sites & Forums
GyG's Old Salt Marines Tavern ~Interactive~
Gunny G's Globe and Anchor Weblog
~SITES/FORUMS FOR THE THINKING MARINE!~