Rene Arthur Gagnon


Rene Arthur Gagnon Famous memorial

Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 12 Oct 1979 (aged 54)
Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 51, Grave 543
Memorial ID 1909 View Source

World War II United States Marine, Iwo Jima Flag Raiser. During the Battle for Iwo Jima he was a USMC Private assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, and one of six men who were immortalized in Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's photo of the US Flag raising on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, just after noon on February 23, 1945, for which Rosenthal was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. The six men were Corporal Harlon Block, Private Rene Gagnon, Private Ira Hayes, Private Franklin Sousley, Sergeant Mike Strank, and Marine Pvt. Harold Schultz. Author James Bradley described his life's story in the bestseller, "Flags of Our Fathers" (2000). The flag in the famous photo is the second US flag raised over Mount Suribachi; the first 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. Born the only child of French Canadian mill workers Henry and Irene Gagnon in Manchester, New Hampshire. Shortly after his birth, Irene divorced her husband when she discovered he was the father of a child with another woman. Quiet and polite, Rene kept in the background, while his mother worked in the mills to support the two of them. After two years of high school, Rene dropped out of school to join his mother in the mills, working as a doffer (they replaced full bobbins with empty ones on the thread making machines), while living at home. When he received his draft notice in May 1943, he immediately enlisted into the Marines. After boot camp at Parris Island, he was promoted to Private First Class and assigned as a military policeman to Charleston Naval Station, SC. In January 1944, he was reassigned to the newly forming 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, and slated for the upcoming invasion of Iwo Jima. The invasion of 70,000 marines landed on February 19, 1945, on the south side of the island, with Gagnon landing at Green Beach, closest to Mount Suribachi. Rene was made a Company Runner, carrying messages to and from the Company CP. On the fourth day of the invasion, the Marines captured Mount Suribachi and raised the American flag. Rene carried the second flag up the mountain slope and helped to raise it, replacing the first (and smaller) flag. Following the capture of Mount Suribachi, the 28th Marines were redeployed to capture the west coast side of the island, and when the island was finally secure, Gagnon returned to the US where he was ordered to participate in the 7th War Bond Rally. He was one of only 50 men out of the original 310 men in E Company who survived the battle without being wounded or killed. During the War Bond Rally, he married his hometown sweetheart, Pauline Harnois, on July 7, 1945, in Baltimore, Maryland. When the Bond Rally ended, Rene was posted to Tsingtao, China, until April 1946, when he was returned to the US and was discharged from the Marines. He initially returned to his former life in the Manchester Mills. He and Pauline would have only one child, a son, Rene, Jr. born two years later. Later, while working as a janitor at Colonial Village in Manchester, Rene Gagnon was stricken with a heart attack and died instantly at his work place, at the age of 54. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson



Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees



How famous was Rene Arthur Gagnon?

Current rating:

229 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1909
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rene Arthur Gagnon (7 Mar 1925–12 Oct 1979), Find a Grave Memorial ID 1909, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .