Retired Sailor Whose Troops Planted American Flag Over Iwo Jima Dies | News from USA®


SAN DIEGO (AP) – Dave Severance, the commander of the Marine Company whose troops planted the American flag on Iwo Jima during World War II, a moment captured in one of the world’s most iconic war photographs story, died. He was 102 years old.

Severance died Monday at his home in La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Severance’s company landed in Wave 10 of what would eventually be around 70,000 Marines invading the island, about 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo. They were greeted by some 20,000 Japanese.

On February 23, 1945, the fifth day of fighting, about 40 members of Severance’s company were dispatched to Mount Suribachi with orders to plant the flag. When Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal arrived on the island, he asked for it to be kept as a memento.

After his withdrawal, Severance ordered a second group of Marines to replace the flag with a larger one. The second flag raising on Mount Suribachi was captured in a dramatic photo by Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.

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The Marines would keep the first flag and the Secretary of the Navy would get the replacement, which flew over Mount Suribachi for the remainder of the battle. Both flags are now in the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.

Severance spent his retirement quietly trying to set the record straight that there had been two flag raisings that morning in February 1945.

He cared about the history of the flag, he told the Union-Tribune in an interview in 2012, as it spoke of the courage and sacrifice it witnessed every day for more than a month for the battle, one of the bloodiest of the war. About 75 percent of his company were injured or killed.

Severance pay was awarded a Silver Star.

Born February 4, 1919 in Milwaukee, Severance grew up in Colorado and joined the Marines in 1938.

After leading the Marines during World War II, he flew nearly 70 missions in Korea as an aviator.

He retired from the Marine Corps in 1968.

His death was first reported on Wednesday by The New York Times, which attributed the information about his death to his family.

Survivors include two daughters, Nina Cohen and Lynn Severance; two sons, Dave Jr. and Mike Severance; and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his second wife, Barbara, who died in 2017.

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