Ray Jacobs: Eyewitness Iwo Jima Flag Raising

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

December 15th, 2005, 3:01 am #1


Morning, 1020, Mount Suribachi
23 February 1945
This was Lt Schrier's 40-man combat patrol from E-2-28; later that day, another "replacement" flag was raised and that was captured on camera by Joe Rosenthal...

Is Raymond Still Alive--I just sent him this email--
by Kevin Barre (no login)

Here is a copy of the email I just sent Raymond Jacobs. I hope it finds him alive and well.

My grandfather's name was Sgt. Elbert Thomas Hairston, and was best friends with Lou Lowery until the day Lou died. My grandfather, unfortunately, has also passed, and had this uncanny feeling that I should start researching his old "war stories." This copy of this email is what I sent to Ray....I think I have some interesting info. Hopefully it's new! reply back to kbarre@gmail.com with any response....


December 14, 2005

Mr. Jacobs,

My name is Kevin Barre, and I'd like to take a second or two of your time to relay to you a story. I know that there aren't many of you WWII veterans around, and I certainly hope this message finds you in good health and spirits.

My grandfather's name was Elbert Thomas Hairston (he went by Thomas), and he was stationed in Guam, but was responsible for the Pacific Distribution and Circulation of the Leatherneck Magazine during your years overseas. What I hope to explain to you in this email is that your story strongly resembles the accounts of my grandfather, who had much firsthand knowledge with the events of the Flag Raising.....He remained best friends with Lou Lowery until the day Lou died.

Lou Lowery, after taking the photos, found my grandfather and asked him to do him a favor. His request was that my grandfather transport the film to the nearest place to develop it. My grandfather actually held the film of these pictures in his hands. Unfortunately, he also had another brother stationed at Iwo, so he had to go and check on him. This took precious time, and when he went back finally get these important and historic photos developed, Rosenthal had already taken his pictures, had them developed, and they were already on their way to Life Magazine.

Apparently, there was a discussion with the Commandant of the Marines about the validity of Mr. Rosenthal's photo. My grandfather, until the day he died, explained that he was adamant with the Commandant that the REAL photographs were taken by Lou Lowery, and that history would never understand the real events of the taking of the mountain. My grandfather's story is that the Commandant replied that Mr. Rosenthal's pictures were more patriotic, and quite frankly, were better pictures. I guess he acknowledged that Mr. Lowery's pictures, were in fact, the authentics, but that they were going to forge ahead with Mr. Rosenthal's. Somewhere amid this confusion, it seems your story has been lost as well.

It also has been passed to me that Lowery had more than 30 pictures to be developed....and my grandfather, in his haste to get them done, was only able to in fact develop those 30. This story was passed to me by my mother, so I am unable to verify. I do know that my grandfather had one of the originals in possession up until shortly before he died. None of us in the family are quite sure where that picture went. It mysteriously disappeared.

My grandfather fought hard in the early 90's to get this side of the story known. He never truly forgave himself for not getting those photos developed before Rosenthal did. I think this was his final way of having some closure with those events. It's quite possible that he contacted you in his research. I certainly hope he had that opportunity.

As far as your story, I find it compelling because your story matches more with my grandfather's (as told to him directly by Lou) than MANY of these other accounts I have researched. The stories about HOW you guys scaled the mountain, about Lou falling and injuring himself, about the smoke and unclear and tense nature of the raising, about the piping, the cord, about the confusion of who was who. I always remember my grandfather telling the story as if it were in the "heat of the moment" and that there was plenty of confusion on the mountain that day. He cringed whenever he saw the Rosenthal photo, not only because he blamed himself, but also because he knew the real story.

I, too, noticed the confusion over the actual names in the photographs throughout my research. Your picture comparisons tell quite an interesting story. Due to your account of the events that day, and based on what my grandfather told me, I sincerely wanted to let you know that your story was heard by me, a 27 year old teacher in Cleveland, Ohio.

I'm not sure what it's worth, but the website I found your story on has lots of info on the entire "controversy" but your's was the most compelling. I really wish my grandpa was alive to speak with you, if he hadn't done so. If you did speak with him, I'd love to hear about it.

His efforts to get this story publicized did, in fact, materialize when an article was published in the Leatherneck itself, sometime in the 90's. I plan on seeing my mother during the holidays and could get you more info if you need it.

I'm sure you already know that Lou has died, along with many of those involved that day. Hopefully you find peace with your plight, or at least some solace that I believe your story, and know that all of this controversy has not been entirely well received....and that's a shame. I firmly agree that the record should be straight.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. I hope this message finds you well.


Kevin Barre
North Royalton, OH

Posted on Dec 13, 2005, 9:24 PM
from IP address
From: "RAYMOND JACOBS" <ray1jacobs@msn.com> View Contact Details View Contact Details Add Mobile Alert
To: tomfarrell@cox.net, jay5644@comcast.net, Doc666usmc1@aol.com, gyg1345@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: Iwo Jima Flag Raising--I hope this finds you.
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 16:46:07 -0800

My answer to his letterHello Mr.Barre...

Fascinating story about your grandfather.

I had heard a similar story about how Lou
Lowery's and Joe Rosenthal's
pictures were handled.

Both sets of pictures ended up on Guam but
Rosenthals pictures were given
priority in getting them to the states.Lowery,on
the other hand,was a Marine
cameraman so his stuff had to go through Navy

The news story of the first flag raising also got
priority and,along with
the interviews of we Marines on Suribachi,were
published in the U.S. on
Saturday,Feb.24,1945,the day after the flag
The news story got to the states early enough for
reporters to get to my
mother at our home for comments and pictures.

The next day,Sunday,Feb.25,1945,the L.A.Times
published Rosenthal's picture
of the second flag raising on the front pageThe
caption under that picture
credited me by name as a flag raiser.There's your
confusion.It wasn't until
a week or more later that Lowey's picture of the
first flag raising was
published in Life magazine.

Next,Time magazine published a story that
Rosenthal's picture was
posed.Associated Press owned the rights to
Rosenthal's pictures so they
threatened to sue and started raising a fuss with
the Commandant demanding
an explanation.Reporters on Iwo chimed in.They
knew that Rosenthal's picture
was real but it was simply a photo of the
replacement of the smaller
original flag with a larger flag.Rosenthal almost
didn't get the picture but
what he shot turned out to be a great picture.

The dispute ended up in the Commandant's
office.A.P. got credit,Life/Time
dropped the 'posed' story and got to use A.P.'s
pictures and the Marine
Corps got free use of Rosenthal's picture in
perpetuity.The Commandant then
ordered Lowery's pictures and the story of the
first flag raising
surpressed.The story and a few of Lowery's
pictures were finally published
in Leatherneck about 2 1/2 years later.

They didn't see light of day again until 2002
when Leatherneck said it had
discovered Lowery's negatives in files.

I have heard that Lowery carried 4 film packs on
his trip up Suribachi.Those
film packs held 8 negatives each.When the
Commandant ordered Lowery's photos
and the story surpressed he put into effect a
reluctance by all Marines to
do any serious research into the first flag
raising.That's why to this day
the folks at Leatherneck and the Marine History
Center are happy to do
nothing to make waves and it explains why they
circled the wagons when I
provided proof that the official version of the
first flag raising was

There are 3 survivors of the first flag
raising.Charles Lindberg and Phil
Ward are in poor health but still with us.I have
been blessed with good

I am making headway.My story has been widely
distributed to
authors,reporters and,more importantly, to
Marines of all ranks and at all

Any additional information you would supply would
be very much
appreciated.If I can answer any questions just
ask away.Thanks for
writing.Good to hear from you.

Semper Fi,Ray Jacobs
Ray Jacobs Eyewitness Iwo Jima Flag Raising


R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
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