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Charles W. Lindberg

Charles W. "Chuck" Lindberg (June 26, 1920 – June 24, 2007) was a United States Marine Corps corporal who served in World War II. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, he helped place the first of two U.S. flags on top of Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945. Lindberg was one of the last surviving members of the 40-man patrol that climbed and captured Mount Suribachi.

Charles Lindberg
BornJune 26, 1920
Grand Forks, North Dakota
DiedJune 24, 2007(2007-06-24) (aged 86)
Edina, Minnesota
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Unit2nd Battalion 28th Marines
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsSilver Star Medal
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon

In 1954, the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, was modeled after the famous photograph of the second flag raising which had been generally portrayed since 1945 as the only flag-raising on Mount Suribachi.[1] Although there were photographs taken of the first flag flying on Mount Suribachi and some which include Lindberg helping to tie the flag unto the flagstaff and standing beneath the flag after it was raised, there was no single photograph taken of Marines actually raising the first flag. The first flag flown over the southern end of Iwo Jima was regarded to be too small to be seen by all the American troops on the other side of the mountain, and it was replaced by a larger one. Lindberg spent decades trying to raise awareness of the first flag raising.

U.S. Marine CorpsEdit

World War IIEdit

Lindberg was born and lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota, when he enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after the Japanese Navy attack on Pearl Harbor. After completing recruit training, he volunteered for the Marine Raiders, a special unit of the Marine Corps. Lindberg first saw combat on Guadalcanal while serving as a member of the 2nd Raider Battalion ("Carlson's Raiders"), and participated in the "Long Patrol". He also saw combat with the 2nd Raiders on Bougainville. In February 1944, the Marine Raider and Paramarine units were disbanded and he returned to the United States. He was reassigned to the newly activated 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. The division trained in Hawaii before leaving for Iwo Jima.

Battle of Iwo JimaEdit

Lindberg was assigned as a flamethrower operator in 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. On February 19, 1945, he landed with the fifth assault wave on the southeast beach of Iwo Jima closest to Mount Suribachi, which was the 28th Marine Regiment's objective. Because of heavy fighting, the base of Mount Suribachi was not reached and surrounded until February 22. On February 23, flamethrower operators Cpl. Lindberg and Pvt. Robert Goode of E Company were members of the 40-man combat patrol that climbed up Mount Suribachi to seize and occupy the crest and raise the Second Battalion's American flag. On March 1, Lindberg was wounded in the right forearm by a Japanese sniper and was evacuated off the island. He received the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action from February 19 to March 1, 1945, on Iwo Jima[2] (Pvt. Goode was also wounded on March 1 and received the Silver Star Medal).[3]

First flag raisingEdit
Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima
Lowery's most widely circulated picture of the first flag flown on Mount Suribachi (after the flag was raised).
Left to right: 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier (kneeling next to radio operator), Pfc. Raymond Jacobs (radio operator), Sgt. Henry Hansen (soft cap, holding flagstaff), Pvt. Phil Ward (holding lower flagstaff), Platoon Sgt. Ernest Thomas (seated), PhM2c. John Bradley, USN (holding flagstaff above Ward), Pfc. James Michels (in foreground with M1 carbine), and Lindberg (standing, extreme right).

On February 23, 1945, the Second Battalion commander ordered a platoon-sized patrol to climb up Mount Suribachi. A 40-man patrol, which was made up of Marines mostly from Third Platoon, E Company, 28th Marines, was to seize and occupy the crest of 556-foot Mount Suribachi and raise the 2nd Battalion's American flag at the summit to signal that the Mount Suribachi was captured. At 8 a.m., the patrol, led by E Company's executive officer, First Lieutenant Harold Schrier, started climbing the mountain. Less than an hour later, and after receiving occasional Japanese sniper fire, the patrol reached the rim of the volcano. After a brief firefight, Lt. Schrier and his men captured the summit.

A flag measuring 54 by 28 inches (137 by 71 cm) which had been taken from the attack transport USS Missoula (APA-211) by the Second Battalion adjutant which he carried for the battalion, was given to Schrier by the adjutant (or battalion commander) to take up the mountain and raise if he could.[4] The flag was tied unto a long piece of a Japanese water pipe by Lt. Schrier, Sgt. Henry Hansen and Cpl. Lindberg with the help of Platoon Sergeant Ernest Thomas and Pvt. Phil Ward who held the pipe for them. The flagstaff was then carried to the highest part on the crater, and raised by Schrier, Thomas, and Hansen at approximately 10:30 a.m.[5][6][7] Lindberg assisted the flag-raisers in planting the flagstaff firmly into the ground. As the terrific winds on Suribachi started to move the flagstaff sideways, Sgt. Hansen was assisted by Pvt. Ward and Navy corpsman John Bradley in making the flagstaff stay in a vertical position. The men at, around, and holding the flagstaff which included Schrier's radioman Raymond Jacobs (assigned to patrol from F Company), were photographed several times by Staff Sgt. Louis R. Lowery, a photographer with Leatherneck magazine who accompanied the patrol up the mountain.[8][9][10] Seeing the national colors raised and flying caused loud cheering from the Marines, sailors, and coast guardsmen on the beach below and from the men on the ships near the beach. A firefight with some Japanese soldiers took place after the flag was raised which almost harmed Lowery after an enemy grenade exploded near him. The Second Battalion commander, Platoon Sgt. Thomas, and Sgt. Hansen were killed in action in March.

Second flag raisingEdit

The Marines in charge of the operation to capture Iwo Jima determined about two hours or more later after the flag was raised, that another larger flag would replace the flag flying on Mount Suribachi. The 2nd Battalion's flag was considered to be too small to be seen on the other side of Mount Suribachi where the Japanese airfields and rest of the island was located (more Japanese soldiers were located there and more fighting would occur in the days ahead). While Lindberg was reloading his flamethrower tanks below Mount Suribachi, a 96 by 56 inch flag was obtained from a ship on shore and brought up to the top of Suribachi. A 4-man patrol from Second Platoon, E Company, was also sent up Suribachi with re-supplies for Third Platoon and orders to raise the replacement flag. The flag was attached to another and heavier Japanese pipe and raised (while the other flag came down) by Sgt. Michael Strank, Cpl. Harlon Block (incorrectly identified as Sgt. Hansen until January 1947), Pfc. Ira Hayes, Pfc. Franklin Sousley, Pfc. Rene Gagnon, the E Company runner who brought up the flag, and Pfc. Harold Schultz (in 2016, it was determined that corpsman Bradley did not raise the flag, and Schultz did),[11] who was present at the first flag-raising.[12] Lindberg included in his many public talks about the first flag-raising on Mount Suribachi, that the 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines commander, Lt. Colonel Johnson, had ordered the first flag replaced and safeguarded in order to make sure it was kept for his battalion after the battle.

Joe Rosenthal's (Associated Press) historical flag-raising photograph of the second flag-raising on Mount Suribachi appeared in Sunday newspapers on February 25, 1945, as the only flag-raising on Mount Suribachi. This flag raising was also filmed in color by Marine Sgt. Bill Genaust (killed in action in March) and was used in newsreels. Other photographers with and besides Rosenthal ascended the mountain after the first flag was raised and the mountaintop secured. These photographers including Rosenthal and an army photographer, took photos of Marines, corpsmen, and themselves, around both of the flags. The second flag-raisers and John Bradley (instead of Howard Schultz),[13] received national recognition for raising the flag on Iwo Jima and for the two surviving flag-raisers, Gagnon and Hayes's (and Bradley's) participation in the bond selling tour after the battle. The Marines who captured Mount Suribachi and were involved with the first flag-raising, including Lindberg, generally did not receive national recognition.

Post-war and later lifeEdit

Lindberg was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in January 1946, and returned home to Grand Forks, North Dakota. He married, moved to Richfield, Minnesota, in 1951, where he raised two daughters and three sons, and worked as an electrician for 39 years. In the 1970s, he began telling his story about the capture of Mount Suribachi and the first American flag raising on top of which he had actually participated in, only to have his story called into question, until more of the facts of the first flag-raising became better known and accepted by the general public. He often spoke at schools, sharing some of his wartime memories of Iwo Jima and World War II with the children. In 1995, he returned to Iwo Jima for the 50th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima. In November 2006, he attended his last reunion of Third Platoon, E Company, 28th Marines, which was held in Washington, D.C.[14]

Marine Corps War MemorialEdit

The Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) in Arlington, Virginia, which was inspired by Joe Rosenthal's photograph of the second flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi by six Marines on February 23, 1945, was dedicated on November 10, 1954 (179th anniversary of the Marine Corps).[15] Harold Schrier and Charles Lindberg who were involved with the first-flag raising, and Lou Lowery, who took the first photographs of the first flag on Mount Suribachi, attended the dedication.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower sat upfront with Vice President Richard Nixon, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Anderson, and General Lemuel C. Shepherd, the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps during the dedication ceremony. Two of the three surviving second flag-raisers depicted on the monument, Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon, were seated together with John Bradley (who was incorrectly identified as being a surviving flag-raiser)[16] in the front rows of seats along with relatives of the second flag-raisers who were killed in action on the island.[17] Speeches were given by the monument's sculptor Felix de Weldon, Richard Nixon, Robert Anderson who dedicated the memorial, and General Shepherd who presented the memorial to the American people.[18] Inscribed on the memorial are the following words:

In Honor And Memory Of The Men of The United States Marine Corps Who Have Given Their Lives To Their Country Since 10 November 1775


Charles W Lindberg headstone in Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Lindberg died at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minnesota, on June 24, 2007. In a tribute to Lindberg, KARE TV ran the following report:

At Fort Snelling, Friday, June 29th, 2007 the nation bid farewell to a true World War II hero. Marine Chuck Lindberg was laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
The thundering jet fighters and some vintage WWII planes flew overhead to pay tribute. And it was well deserved.
Lindberg was the last survivor of the first flag-raising on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi. But his moment was overshadowed by a second flag-raising. He spent a lifetime correcting the record.
Still, on this Friday at Fort Snelling, there was no doubt about history's record.
During the ceremony one of Lindberg's daughters, Diane Steiger said, "The angels needn't worry tonight, another Marine has arrived. Our hero has gone home, the heavens are safer tonight."[19]

Chuck Lindberg's bronze bust is the center piece of The Honoring All Veterans Memorial in Veterans Park in Richfield, Minnesota.

Military awardsEdit

Lindberg's military decorations and awards include:

Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Navy Presidential Unit Citation with 316" bronze star
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three 316" bronze stars
World War II Victory Medal

Silver Star Medal citationEdit

Lindberg's Silver Star Medal citation reads:[20]


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as Flame Thrower Operator of Company E, Second Battalion, Twenty-eight Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 February to 1 March 1945. Repeatedly exposing himself to hostile grenades and machine-gun fire in order that he might reach and neutralize enemy pill-boxes at the base of Mount Suribachi, Corporal Lindberg courageously approached within ten or fifteen yards of the emplacements before discharging his weapon, thereby assuring annihilation of the enemy and the successful completion of his platoon's mission. As a member of the first combat patrol to scale Mount Suribachi, he courageously carried his flame thrower to the steep slopes and assisted in destroying the occupants of the many caves found in the rim of the volcano, some of which contained as many as seventy Japanese. While engaged in an attack on hostile cave positions on March 1, he fearlessly exposed himself to accurate enemy fire and was subsequently wounded and evacuated. By his determinations in manning his weapon, despite its weight and the extreme heat developed in operation, Corporal Lindberg greatly assisted in securing his company's position. His courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Portrayal in filmsEdit

In the film Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Lindberg is played by Alessandro Mastrobuono. Lindberg is the only character to appear in both Flags of Our Fathers and its companion film, Letters from Iwo Jima, although in the latter, he is uncredited and simply seen in the same shot of both films, rushing towards a bunker with a flamethrower.

Public honorsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ "The Man Who Carried the Flag on Iwo Jima", by G. Greeley Wells, New York Times, October 17, 1991, p. A-26
  5. ^
  6. ^ [3] Richmond News, Camden-Fleming man an unsung hero at Iwo Jima, January 2, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2014
  7. ^ [4] Rural Florida Living. Thomas was interviewed by CBS radio broadcaster Dan Pryor on February 25, 1945, aboard the USS Eldorado (AGC-11): "Three of us actually raised the flag".
  8. ^ Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima, by Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Retired), 1994, from the National Park Service.
  9. ^ Picture of the first flag raising
  10. ^ Image of the first flag being lowered as the second flag is raised Archived June 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 112718.
  11. ^ USMC Statement on Marine Corps Flag Raisers, Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication, 23 June 2016
  12. ^ USMC Statement on Marine Corps Flag Raisers, Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication, 23 June 2016
  13. ^ USMC Statement on Marine Corps Flag Raisers, Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication, 23 June 2016
  14. ^ [5]
  15. ^ Marine Corps War Memorial Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
  16. ^ USMC Statement on Marine Corps Flag Raisers, Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication, 23 June 2016
  17. ^ "Memorial honoring Marines dedicated". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 1.
  18. ^ "Marine monument seen as symbol of hopes, dreams". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 2.
  19. ^ Farewell to a Hero
  20. ^ FMF Pac, Spot Ser. 54919
  21. ^ [6] Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial
  22. ^ [7]

External linksEdit