April 29, 2013
NAVY ENSIGN WHO PROVIDED IWO JIMA FLAG DIES
Sierra Madre, California (JFK+50) Alan Wood, the US Navy Ensign who provided the flag which was raised by Marines on Mount Suribachi during WWII, died last week at the age of 90.
US Flag Flown on Mt. Suribachi
National Museum of the Marine Corps
Photo by Mark Pellegrini (2006)
Mr. Wood, who served on LST 779 during the Iwo Jima campaign, lived here in Sierra Madre, California and is survived by son Steven and 3 grandchildren.
Ensign Wood was 22 years old when he, as a Naval communications officer, was approached by a Marine who needed "the biggest flag that he could find."
The Marines had successfully captured MOUNT SURIBACHI after 5 hard days of fighting and wanted to signal the capture of the critical position to US troops continuing the fight below.
Wood located a 37 square foot American flag he had found at the Pearl Harbor Navy Depot.
When 5 Marines raised that flag, AP photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped the image that has been referred to as perhaps the most reproduced photograph ever made.
The photograph won Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize, turned the Marines who raised the flag into celebrities, and became a model for the Marine Corps War Memorial.*
USMC War Memorial
Photo by Ketone 16 (2008)
Ensign Wood downplayed his contribution in a letter written later in 1945.
"The fact that there were men among us who were able to face a situation like Iwo, where human life is so cheap, is something to make humble those of us who were so very fortunate not to be called upon to endure such hell."
After the war, Alan Wood was a technical artist and spokesman for the Jet Propulsion Library.
*The USMC War Memorial is the work of Felix de Wel. It was dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 10, 1954. JFK signed a proclamation in 1961 requiring the Flag of the United States to fly from the memorial 24 hours a day.
"WWII vet who provided flag on Iwo Jima has died," by the Associated Press, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, April 29, 2013.
Stars and Stripes on Mt. Suribachi
U.S. Archives Image
You Tube Video