Re-reevaluating the Photo Evidence - A USMC Case Study
RESEARCH NOTES: I have previously said that most of the photo evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy has not determined much with certainty, except for the photo of Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol – that put to rest the question of whether the two men knew each other, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) Photo Panel determination that the boxes in the snipers window were moved after the last shot, based on two photos taken within seconds of each other.
Now however, because of the advancements in photo facial identification software and the recent US Marine Corps re-evaluation of the identities of the men in the famous flag waving photo at Iwo Jima, I believe that a re-evaluation of the photo evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy can and will make more new unquestionable discoveries that can have an impact on the case.
Convincing the Marine Corps Historians that they had identified the wrong man in the Iwo Jima photo, that won a Pulitzer Prize and served as the basis for books, movies and the famous monument in Washington D.C., was not an easy task, but was accomplished by two determined amateur historians – Erick Krelle and Stephen Foley.
If two amateur historical researchers can convince the USMC to admit they were wrong for 70 years in identifying the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, we can convince them that one of the most famous marines of all time - Lee Harvey Oswald, did not kill President Kennedy, and they should release all of the outstanding records they have that support this, including the report that concludes Oswald "was not capable of committing the assassination alone."
Marines investigate claim of mistaken identity in famous Iwo Jima photo
Published May 03, 2016 Associated Press
In this Feb 23, 1945 file photo, U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan. (AP)
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Marine Corps says it has begun investigating whether it mistakenly identified one of the men shown raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima in one of the iconic images of World War II after two amateur history buffs began raising questions about the picture.
The Marines announced its inquiry more than a year after Eric Krelle, of Omaha, Nebraska, and Stephen Foley, of Wexford, Ireland, began raising doubts about the identity of one man. In November 2014, the Omaha World-Herald published an extensive story about their claims and Saturday was the first to report the Marines were looking into the matter.
Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal shot the photo on Feb. 23, 1945, on Mount Suribachi, amid an intense battle with the Japanese. Rosenthal didn't get the names of the men, but the photo immediately was celebrated in the U.S. and President Franklin Roosevelt told the military to identify the men.
After some confusion, the Marines identified the men as John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Harlon Block, Michael Strank and Franklin Sousley. All were Marines except Bradley, who was a Navy corpsman.
Block, Strank and Sousley were killed in fighting at Iwo Jima before the photo was distributed in the U.S.
On Monday, the Marines issued a statement saying, "The Marine Corps is examining information provided by a private organization related (to) Joe Rosenthal's Associated Press photograph of the second flag raising on Iwo Jima.
"Rosenthal's photo captured a single moment in the 36-day battle during which more than 6,500 US servicemen made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation and it is representative of the more than 70,000 US Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Coast Guardsmen that took part in the battle. We are humbled by the service and sacrifice of all who fought on Iwo Jima."
Iwo Jima, a tiny island 660 miles south of Tokyo, was the site of an intense 36-day battle that began Feb. 19, 1945, between about 70,000 Marines and 18,000 Japanese soldiers. Capturing Iwo Jima was deemed essential to the U.S. war effort because Japanese fighter planes were taking off from the island and intercepting American bomber planes.
Hal Buell, a retired AP executive news photo editor, had long discussions with Rosenthal about the flag-raising picture and in 2006 wrote a book about the famous image. It's hard to understand the photo's power in 1945 to Americans, who were weary of the war and horrified by the incredible number of deaths by servicemen, especially in locations of Asia most had never heard of, Buell said.
"People were just tired of the war, and all of a sudden out of nowhere came this picture that encapsulated everything," Buell said. "It showed that victory was ultimately possible."
Buell said after Rosenthal shot the photo, the flag-raisers quickly moved onto other tasks, and it was impossible for him to get their names. That task was left to the Marines after the picture prompted an overwhelming response and the government decided to use the image in an upcoming sale of war bonds to finance the continued fighting.
Rosenthal died in 2006.
The identification of the six servicemen has been accepted for decades, but the World-Herald reported that while recovering from an operation Foley had lots of time on his hands and began noticing possible discrepancies in the picture. He enlisted the help of Krelle, who maintains a website dedicated to the Marines' 5th Division.
After examining the famous photo along with other pictures taken that day of the men, they concluded that the man identified as Bradley was actually Harold Henry Schultz, a private first class from Detroit. Schultz died in 1995.
Krelle declined to comment on the Marine's investigation, telling the World-Herald he had signed a confidentiality agreement with a third party. A message left by the AP at a phone number listed to Krelle wasn't immediately returned.
In 2014, Krelle had told the newspaper, "People can hold onto what they have always known in the past. But to me, the photos are the truth."
Discrepancies identified by Krelle and Foley included:
— Bradley wore uncuffed pants in the famous photo but other pictures shot that day shows in him tightly cuffed pants.
— The bill of a cap is visible beneath the helmet in the flag-raising picture but not in other images of Bradley made that day.
— The man identified as Bradley is wearing a cartridge belt with ammunition pouches, and a pair of wire cutters hangs off the belt. But as a Navy corpsman, Bradley would typically be armed with a sidearm, not an M-1 rifle, and he'd have no need for wire cutters. Other photos that day show him wearing what appears to be a pistol belt with no ammo pouches.
Bradley's son, James Bradley, wrote a best-selling book about the flag raisers, "Flags of Our Fathers," which was later made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood.
Bradley told the AP he was shocked to hear the Marines were investigating the identity of the men.
"This is unbelievable," said Bradley, who interviewed the surviving Marines and Rosenthal before writing his book.
"I'm interested in facts and truths, so that's fine, but I don't know what's happening," he added.
The Marines didn't give a timeline for its investigation.
Marines misidentified one man in iconic 1945 Iwo Jima photo
WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps acknowledged Thursday it had misidentified one of the six men in the iconic 1945 World War II photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima.
The investigation solved one mystery but raised another. The Marine Corps investigation identified a man who has never been officially linked to the famous photo: Pvt. 1st Class Harold Schultz, who died in 1995 and went through life without publicly talking about his role.
“Why doesn’t he say anything to anyone,” asked Charles Neimeyer, a Marine Corps historian who was on the panel that investigated the identities of the flag raisers. “That’s the mystery.”
“I think he took his secret to the grave,” Neimeyer said.
U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Harold Schultz (Photo: Courtesy of The Smithsonian Channel)
The Marine Corps investigation concluded with near certainty that Schultz was one of the Marines ra
raising the flag in the photo.
The investigation also determined that John Bradley, a Navy corpsman, was not in the photograph taken on Japan's Mount Suribachi by Joe Rosenthal, a photographer for the Associated Press. The Feb. 23, 1945, photo that has been reproduced over seven decades actually depicts the second flag-raising of the day.
The three surviving men identified in the photo, John Bradley, Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon, went on a tour selling war bonds back in the United States and were hailed as heroes.
Bradley’s son James Bradley and co-author Ron Powers, wrote a best-selling book about the flag raisers, Flags of our Fathers, which was later made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood. John Bradley had been in the first flag-raising photo on Iwo Jima and may have confused the two, Neimeyer said.
Schultz, who enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17, was seriously injured in fighting on the Japanese island and went on to a 30-year career with the U.S. Postal Service in Los Angeles after recovering from his wounds. He was engaged to a woman after the war, but she died of a brain tumor before they could wed, said his stepdaughter, Dezreen MacDowell. Schultz married MacDowell's mother at age 63.
Analysts believe Schultz, who received a Purple Heart, knew he was in the iconic image, but chose not to talk about it.
“I have a really hard time believing how it wouldn’t have been known to him,” said Matthew Morgan, a retired Marine officer who worked on a Smithsonian Channel documentary on the investigation. The filmmakers turned over their evidence to the Marine Corps to examine.
Schultz may have mentioned his role at least once. MacDowell now recalls he said he was one of the flag raisers over dinner in the early 1990s when they were discussing the war in the Pacific.
“Harold, you are a hero,” she said she told him. “Not really. I was a Marine,” he said.
She described him as quiet and self-effacing.
It’s difficult to fathom his desire to keep his role quiet in an era when many Navy SEALs and other servicemen are rushing books into print about their exploits. During World War II many veterans were reluctant to speak about their experiences because it reminded them of the horrors of war.
One of the flag raisers, Ira Hayes, initially asked to remain anonymous, but the Marines were under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt to identify the Marines so they could go on a war bonds tour.
The photo appeared in thousands of newspapers and raised the morale of a nation that had grown weary of the bloody slog in the Pacific.
“We were winning the war but it was the hardest part of the war,” historian Eric Hammel said of the Pacific island-hopping campaign.
“It went viral in the 1945 equivalent of the word,” Neimeyer said.
The new investigation was prompted by growing doubts about the identity of Bradley in the photo.
Two amateur historians, Eric Krelle and Stephen Foley, went further and were able to identify Schultz as a possible flag raiser. They examined the Rosenthal photo and compared it to others taken the same day, including a film that was shot at the same time as Rosenthal took his photo. Their research was highlighted in a lengthy 2014 Omaha World-Herald article.
More than a year later the Marine Corps agreed to investigate the claim, appointing a nine-person panel headed by Jan Huly, a retired Marine Corps three-star general.
The faces in Rosenthal’s photos are mostly obscured, but investigators were able to identify distinctive ways the Marines wore their equipment and uniforms in the photo and then compared it to other photos taken of the unit on the same day.
“It’s obvious to the untrained eye,” said Michael Plaxton, a consultant who examined the photographs for a documentary, "The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima," which will air on the Smithsonian Channel on July 3.
“People have pointed out the inconsistencies over the years,” Plaxton said.
He said it required more careful and independent analysis to draw any firm conclusions, however. Plaxton’s report and other material uncovered by the Smithsonian Channel was used by the Marine Corps in their investigation.
Neimeyer said the Marine Corps didn’t immediately launch an investigation because it frequently receive competing claims about the presence of people in famous war photos. Once the Marine Corps realized how compelling the evidence was in this case, it agreed to look into the issue earlier this year.
It wasn’t the first time the Marines had to correct the record. A Marine Corps investigation in 1947 determined that Henry Hansen had been misidentified as a flag raiser instead of Harlon Block. Both men had been killed in action on the island, as were two other men identified in the photo, Franklin Sousley and Michael Strank.
It's not surprising there has been confusion about the identities of the Marines. Rosenthal gave the shot very little thought as he took it, and the men raising the flag took little notice as well.
The Marine Corps effort to identify the men was further hindered by the confusion over the fact there were two flag-raisings, the chaos of one of the war’s bloodiest battles and the faces in the photos were obscured.
The Marine Corps said the results of the investigation do
don’t undermine what the photo and memorial depicting it represent. The photo helped cement the Marines’ reputation as one of the world’s toughest fighting forces.
"Although the Rosenthal image is iconic and significant, to Marines it's not about the individuals and never has been," Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in a statement. "Simply stated, our fighting spirit is captured in that frame, and it remains a symbol of the tremendous accomplishments of our Corps -- what they did together and what they represent remains most important.
"That doesn't change," Neller said.
Marines landed on Iwo Jima, a tiny Pacific atoll about 760 miles from mainland Japan, on Feb. 19, 1945, beginning a bloody five-week fight for every inch of the island against an entrenched Japanese force that refused to surrender.
Few Marines escaped unscathed. Of the 70,000 Americans who participated in the battle, 6,800 were killed and about 20,000 were wounded. Some infantry units sustained much higher casualty rates. About 20,000 Japanese soldiers, most of the force, died trying to defend the tiny island.
The first flag-raising, which occurred shortly after 10 a.m., captured the attention of the Marines fighting on the island. In the midst of brutal battles throughout the island they looked up to see the flag flying over Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the island. Marines paused to cheer. Navy ships sounded their horns.
Hours later the Marines decided to replace that flag with a larger one. Rosenthal was there, snapping a photo so quickly he didn’t have time to look through his viewfinder.
After Schultz's death, MacDowell found only a few items that her stepfather kept from his Marine Corps days. Included in the metal box of military records was a group photo that Rosenthal took of Marines on Iwo Jima around the same time as the famous photo.
But there was no answer to the mystery of why Schultz remained largely silent about his brush with history.
“He probably wouldn’t be really happy with us revealing this now,” Neimeyer said.
Man in Iwo Jima Flag Photo Was Misidentified, Marine Corps Says
June 23, 2016
WASHINGTON — An internal investigation by the Marine Corps has concluded that for more than 70 years it wrongly identified one of the men in the iconic photograph of the flag being raised over Iwo Jima during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
The inquiry found that a private first class, Harold Schultz, was one of the six men in the photograph, which received a Pulitzer Prize. And it determined that a Navy hospital corpsman, John Bradley, whose son wrote a best-selling book about his father’s role in the flag-raising that was made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood, was not in the image.
Mr. Schultz, a mail sorter who died in 1995 at age 70, never publicly acknowledged that he was in the photograph. According to his stepdaughter, he discussed it only once with his family, mentioning it briefly one night during dinner in the early 1990s as they talked about the Iwo Jima battle.
“My mom was distracted and not listening and Harold said, ‘I was one of the flag raisers,’ ” his stepdaughter, Dezreen MacDowell, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“I said, ‘My gosh, Harold, you’re a hero.’ He said, ‘No, I was a Marine.’ ”
“After he said that, it was clear he didn’t want to talk about it,” she said. “He was a very self-effacing Midwestern person. He was already sick, and died two or three years later.”
The investigation was opened in response to questions raised last year by producers working on a documentary, “The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima,” to be shown July 3 on the Smithsonian Channel, in what was the latest controversy about the photograph. It was taken on Feb. 23, 1945, by Joseph Rosenthal of The Associated Press as the Marines battled the Japanese on the strategically important island in the Pacific.
Just days later, the image appeared on the front pages of major national newspapers, quickly becoming a symbol of the sacrifices American service members at war were willing to make. Ultimately, 6,800 American service members were killed on the island, and the image became the inspiration for the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., which depicts six 32-foot-tall figures in the same positions as the men in the photograph.
But in 1946, the Marines conducted a similar investigation in response to claims that the service had misidentified one of the flag raisers, concluding that the man in the far right of the photograph was actually Harlon Block, not Henry Hansen. (Both men had died on Iwo Jima.) In the decades since, the Marines and Mr. Rosenthal have fended off accusations that the photograph was staged.
Matthew Morgan, a retired Marine who worked as a producer for the show’s production company, Lucky 8 TV, said it first approached the Marines last year citing evidence that the men in the photograph were misidentified.
Mr. Morgan said the Marines were initially not interested in looking into the claim. But in January, the production company provided the chief historian of the Marines, Charles Neimeyer, with detailed evidence that laid out the case for mistaken identity.
Other photographs of the men on Iwo Jima that day, along with forensic analysis of them, showed that the gear Mr. Bradley was wearing was different from that worn by the man who was identified as Mr. Bradley in the photograph. Facial recognition technology used on the photographs also showed that the man was not Mr. Bradley.
“Over the years, people have claimed they were in the photo, but there was nothing besides their word to back that up,” Dr. Neimeyer said. “I thought that maybe they are on to something, maybe they are right.”
U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raised the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan, in 1945.CreditJoe Rosenthal/Associated Press
In March, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert B. Neller, appointed a retired three-star general to lead a panel of eight active and retired Marine commissioned and noncommissioned officers, including Dr. Neimeyer, to investigate the photograph.
The panel began meeting secretly the next month at Marine offices in Quantico, Va., where it painstakingly examined Mr. Rosenthal’s photograph. After six days, the panel voted unanimously to endorse findings that it was Mr. Schultz, not Mr. Bradley, who had participated in the raising of the flag.
Mr. Bradley’s role that day was at the center of the book “Flags of Our Fathers,” written by his son, James, and Ron Powers, which was published in 2000 and was on the New York Times best-seller list for 46 weeks.
But in May, shortly after it was publicly disclosed that the Marines were investigating the photograph, James Bradley said that he no longer believed that his father, who is deceased, was in the image. He said that his father had participated in an earlier flag-raising and mistakenly believed that it had been the one captured by Mr. Rosenthal. Mr. Bradley declined to participate in the documentary, according to Mr. Morgan.
Mr. Bradley, who did not return an email seeking comment, said in May that he had become convinced of this in 2014, after reading an article in The Omaha World-Herald that told how amateur historians had discovered the incorrect identifications. But he said that it took him a year to examine the evidence in the article because he had been working on a book in Vietnam, and then had become ill.
Days after the photograph was taken in 1945, Mr. Schultz sustained wounds to his arm and stomach, and he was sent home. Several months later, Mr. Schultz, who was originally from Michigan, was discharged from the Marines.
The federal government helped him get a job in Los Angeles as a mail sorter for the Postal Service. He was single until age 60, when he married Ms. MacDowell’s mother, who lived next door in his apartment building and shared a porch. But he never moved in with her and rarely discussed his time in the military, according to Ms. MacDowell.
Why Mr. Schultz apparently never disclosed that he was in the famous picture remains a mystery.
Many Marines who had fought on Iwo Jima suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but little was known about the condition at the time.
To cope, many Marines simply never talked about their military experience.
One of the other men pictured in the flag-raising, Ira Hayes, had asked men in his unit not to identify him as being in the photograph, but they could not keep it secret.
“I think Hayes and Schultz believed that if they were identified as flag raisers, not a day would go by without them being reminded of combat and being on Iwo Jima,” Dr. Neimeyer said.
On Wednesday, General Neller called Ms. MacDowell to tell her of the findings about her stepfather.
“I’m delighted he has gotten the recognition, but I wish it happened when he was alive,” she said afterward. “He was a kind and gentle man.”
General Neller said in a written statement that “although the Rosenthal image is iconic and significant, to Marines it’s not about the individuals and never has been.”
He added: “Simply stated, our fighting spirit is captured in that frame, and it remains a symbol of the tremendous accomplishments of our corps — what they did together and what they represent remains most important. That doesn’t change.”'
The Marines will now alter any places where they refer to the flag raisers, substituting Mr. Schultz’s name for Mr. Bradley.