Flags of Our Fathers

The book, Flags of Our Fathers, was written by James Bradley the son of Jack Bradley one of the people who the book is written about. It is written about the six flag raisers at Iwo Jima. It starts with James Bradley and some of the other Bradley family getting to visit Iwo Jima after their father and husband Jack Bradley passed away. James decides that he wants to research what happened then and the events leading up to the battle at Iwo Jima. His father the only flag raiser to live to an old age never talked about his time in the military before, especially Iwo Jima.

James Bradley speaks to current U. S. Marines at Iwo Jima during his visit and to commemorate people who fought there. It starts out describing the childhood of the six flag raisers. The six flag raisers, who the book is all about, names are John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Mike Strank, Harlon Block, and Franklin Sousley. The story is about their life from their childhood to their time in the military and the battle at Iwo Jima. There is a part from every city they were born in, the book is also located at the bases the men started out at and the people who joined first, first battles.

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They all train together at the bases in California when they are finally united in the Easy Company where they are all united. They are all U. S. Marines except for the author’s father Jack Bradley who was a U. S. Navy corpsmen but they trained with the U. S. Marines because that’s who they went in to battle with and who they helped heal during battle. The U. S. Navy corpsmen were the ones who administered aid to the injured Marines. Every other flag raiser was a Marine. Mike Strank was the leader among them, Harlon Block under him, followed by the rest all being privates in the chain of command.

After they formed together at the base in California, went to Hawaii to train in a place more similar to the place they were going where they could train similar to the island of Iwo Jima who at the time they all knew as island x because that information was top secret. At the base in Hawaii they could train using terrain they would be getting to see at island x. So when they finally went on the real attack at Iwo Jima they were the closet to ready as possible. Some of the older Marines had already experienced the kind of fight they were waiting for. Forty-percent of the people in the 2nd battalion who had already fought in world war II.

The other sixty-percent were straight from boot camp. Three of the flag raisers were from boot camp three had already fought at Bougainville. Mike Strank, Harlon Block, and Ira Hayes had already fought at Bougainville though they didn’t know each other at the time. The other three were straight from boot camp, Jack Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Franklin Sousley. Bougainville, the island in the south pacific changed the three who went and changed the Marines knowledge of the Japanese. They thought the island would be easy to take as the others in the south pacific had been and this was the last one in the south pacific to take.

The naval bombardment at the beginning, before the storming of the island, they thought would take care of most of the defenders, but they were very wrong. The Japanese had build tough shelters, that withstood all but a direct hit from the naval bombardment. This wasn’t good, it meant most of the Japanese would still be alive and could only be taken out from riflemen. They didn’t know this until after the battle. This meant a great many losses on this little island. When they made it onto the island they saw many of their comrades die, and they had to kill for the first time.

This changed the three young men. Mike Strank and Harlon Block both thought they would die in their next battle. They told some of their family so on their leave after the battle. Ira was different he had always been a quiet person but now seemed older and acted differently. This battle was harsh and they were on the island for two months living in foxholes watching for their enemy it would change anyone. Though they practiced a lot before Iwo Jima still a great many Marines died. Three of the six flag raisers died during the battle, so Harlon and Mike both died at their next battle as they thought.

Jack Bradley was severely injured and lived the rest of his life with shrapnel down one side of his body. Franklin Sousley was the last to die at Iwo Jima, two weeks after Mike and Harlon died. Mike was the first to die and then Harlon led the men Mike led before but he died just hours later, both were killed by a mortar. The other three survived the battle and went home to America. Ira didn’t feel like a hero when he returned. They had a tour to help sell war bonds, but Ira felt no pride at returning, but sadness because the real heroes were the ones that died over there, and there were many of them.

Ira died just three months after the dedication of the Iwo Jima monument in Washington at the age of 32. Rene Gagnon was the one who carried the flag up Mt. Suribachi. He is buried in Arlington national cemetery. Jack Bradley however was the one who put his life back together and lived on to an old age and married and had many kids. He lived to the age of 70 and hardly ever talked about the war. The only thing he would say is that the real heroes die for their country. They are all heroes to be proud of. A discrepancy I would see from this is that a lot of people think that war is easy.

It is not. It kills, and it takes sons away and it makes people have sadness in their life long after they are home. All the men were affected by it, whether they were died, injured, or just mentally. Another would be that people think that the heroes return but the heroes die for their country. The surviving ones don’t return because they were better at war, but because they got lucky. The other thing would be that people thing that war is honorable and nice. It is neither one of those, it’s dirty, bloody, and miserable. War is no game, and should not be treated as such.

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