Harlon Henry Block

Harlon Henry Block

Yorktown, DeWitt County, Texas, USA
Death 1 Mar 1945 (aged 20)
Iwo Jima, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Burial Harlingen, Cameron County, Texas, USA
Plot At the base of the flag raising sculpture
Memorial ID 18154 · View Source
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World War II United States Marine, Iwo Jima Flag Raiser. He served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II as a Corporal in E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. During the February-March 1945 Battle for Iwo Jima Island, he, along with Private Rene Gagnon, Private Ira Hayes, Private Franklin Sousley, Sergeant Mike Strank, and Marine Pvt. Harold Schultz, were immortalized in Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's photo of the United States Flag raising on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, just after noon on February 23, 1945, for which Rosenthal was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Born the second son of six children to a farming family in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, near where the Rio Grande River emptied into the Gulf of Mexico. he was raised in his mother's faith as a Seventh Day Adventist, with their belief "Thou Shall Not Kill" making many of them conscientious objectors. A natural athlete, he played on the football team until his graduation from Weslaco, Texas High School in June 1942. Immediately following graduation, he and 12 other high school football players all enlisted together into the Marine Corps. Following assignment to San Diego, California, Harlon Block volunteered for the Parachute Regiment and became parachute qualified in May 1943. Shortly afterwards, he fought at Bougainville with the 3rd Marine Division. Following Bougainville and a 30-day leave, he was reassigned to the newly forming 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, and slated for the upcoming invasion of Iwo Jima Island. In his squad were Sergeant Strank, Private First Class Hayes and Private First Class Sousley. The invasion force of 70,000 marines landed on February 19, 1945, on the south side of the island, with Strank landing at Green Beach, closest to Mount Suribachi. On the fourth day of the invasion, the Marines captured Mount Suribachi and raised the American flag. Following the death of Sergeant Strank on March 1, Harlon Block took over the squad and continued the battle on the western end of the island until he too was killed in action later that same day by another enemy mortar shell. When Rosenthal's photo became known to the public, Corporal Block was initially mistakenly identified as Marine Sergeant Henry Hansen, who was also on the mountaintop, but two years after the photo was taken, Block's participation in the second photo was confirmed (occasionally Hansen is still listed as a participant). The flag in the famous photo was the second United States flag raised over Mount Suribachi that day; a much smaller flag was raised there at 10:20 am by Sergeant Henry Hansen, Platoon Sergeant Eugene Thomas, Corpsman John Bradley, Private Philip Ward, Private James Michels and Corporal Chuck Lindberg, and photographed by Sergeant Lou Lowery (Corpsman John Bradley is the only one in both flag raising photos). Corporal Block's life story was detailed in author James Bradley 2000 bestseller "Flags of Our Fathers". Interred first on Iwo Jima Island, his remains were later moved to Welasco Cemetery in Welasco, Texas. In 1995 they were again re-interred to their present resting place.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 26 Oct 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 18154
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Harlon Henry Block (6 Nov 1924–1 Mar 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 18154, citing Marine Military Academy Grounds, Harlingen, Cameron County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .