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CPL Ira Hamilton Hayes

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CPL Ira Hamilton Hayes

World War II United States Marine. He was one of the Flag Raiser at Iwo Jima during World War II. A Pima Indian, he was born on the Gila River Reservation, the oldest of eight children. In August of 1942, at the age of 19, he quit school and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. On February 19, 1945 a large contingent of Marines landed on the island of Iwo Jima facing a substantial army of Japanese defenders who were well dug in and camouflaged. Four of the Second World War's bloodiest, fiercest days of combat ensued, during which the Marines took more casualties than they had in several months at Guadalcanal. On February 23, 1945, forty Marines climbed Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the island, in order to raise the American Flag. A first flag was put up, which was cheered wildly by all American personnel who saw it. A larger flag was then ordered to be erected to replace the first, smaller one. Ira Hayes, Corporal Harlon Block of Texas, Sergeant Micheal Strank of Pennsylvania, Private Franklin Sousley of Kentucky, Private Rene Gagnon of New Hampshire, and Navy Corpsman John Bradley of Wisconsin then raised a much larger flag to little notice or fanfare. However, Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer, took several shots of the event, one becoming the world famous photograph of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima (Rosenthal later received the Pulitzer Prize). Strank, Harlon, and Sousley died in combat on the island. The three survivors were chosen by the Marine Corp to be visible, tangible heroes to present to the American public. John Bradley and Ira Hayes learned to resent the public displays, with Ira Hayes encountering much prejudice and racism. After the war he returned to the reservation, more introverted and enigmatic than he he'd been prior to the war. He worked at menial jobs and was arrested numerous times for drunkenness. On a cold morning in January 1955, 32 year old Hayes was found dead in a ditch a short distance from his home. The coroner found his death to be an accident contributed to by alcohol. In death he was afforded respect and accolades he rarely found in life, as his body was made to lie in State in the Arizona Capitol Building, he received the largest state funeral in Arizona history, and his body was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. He was portrayed by actor Tony Curtis in the 1961 movie, "The Outsider" and by Adam Beach in the 2006 movie "Flags of Our Fathers".

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 463
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for CPL Ira Hamilton Hayes (12 Jan 1923–24 Jan 1955), Find A Grave Memorial no. 463, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .