Charles W. Lindberg
|Charles W. Lindberg|
|Born||June 26, 1920|
|Died||June 24, 2007 (aged 86)|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Unit||2nd Battalion 28th Marines|
|Awards||Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation
Charles W. "Chuck" Lindberg (June 26, 1920 – June 24, 2007) was a former United States Marine who was part of the combat patrol that climbed Mount Suribachi and raised the first of two U.S. flags on the summit during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. He was one of the last surviving members of the two flag-raising events on February 23, 1945.
World War II
U.S. Marine Corps
Lindberg was a native of Grand Forks, North Dakota when he enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after the Japanese Navy attack on Pearl Harbor. Shortly after joining the Marine Corps, he volunteered for the Marine Raiders, a special Marine Corps unit. Lindberg first saw combat on Guadalcanal while serving as a member of the 2nd Raider Battalion ("Carlson's Raiders"), and participated in the "Long Patrol". He also saw combat with the 2nd Raiders on Bougainville. In February 1944, the Marine Raider and Paramarine units were disbanded and he returned to the States. He was reassigned to the newly activated 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, CA
Battle of Iwo Jima
Lindberg was assigned as a flamethrower operator in 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. On February 19, he landed with the fifth assault wave on the beach of Iwo Jima. On February 23, Lindberg was part of the 40-man combat patrol led by First Lieutenant Harold Schrier that climbed up and captured the top of Mount Suribachi and raised the American flag. On March 1, he was wounded in the arm by an Japanese sniper and was evacuated off the island. He received the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action on Iwo Jima from February 19 to March 1, 1945.
Raising the flag
The famous flag-raising photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal on 556' Mount Suribachi was actually the second flag-raising event on February 23, 1945. The first U.S. flag, attached to a narrow water pipe found on Mount Suribachi, was raised on the mountain top from 10:20 to 10:37 a.m.; the larger second flag on a longer and heavier pipe was raised about 1 p.m. Lieutenant Schrier had volunteered to take a patrol up Mount Suribachi and raise an American flag at the summit to signal that the mountain was captured. After a fire-fight at the summit, a flag measuring 54-by-28 inches (137-by-71 cm), was raised and photographed by Marine Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery, a combat photographer with Leatherneck magazine, who had accompanied the patrol.
Schrier, a former Marine Raider like Lindberg, received the Navy Cross for volunteering to take the patrol up Mount Suribachi and raise the flag... Schrier's citation for the medal says, he and his Platoon Sergeant (Ernest Thomas) raised the flag. This is supported by Sgt. Thomas' CBS interview on February 25, 1945 aboard the flagship USS Eldorado where he said that Lt. Schrier, Sgt. Henry Hansen and he, actually raised the flag.
Lindberg, Hansen, Thomas, and Pvt. Phil Ward (held the pipe off the ground), helped Schrier attach the flag to the pipe, and after it was raised and planted, they and corpsman John Bradley, helped to securely plant the flag pipe since the flagpole would not remain upright in the soft sand and wind. Others seen in Lowery's photographs of the first flag-raising event include Pfc. James Michels and radioman, Raymond Jacobs). The flag was too small to be seen easily from the nearby landing beaches, and a larger replacement American flag attached to a longer and heavier pipe was raised simultaneous with the lowering of the first flag pipe and flag. It was the photograph of the second flag-raising by five Marines and a Navy corpsman that was seen around the world. Lindberg also stated that the battalion commander Lt. Colonel Johnson, ordered the first flag replaced and safeguarded, because he did not want it to be taken as a personal souvenir.
Post-war and later life
Lindberg was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1946. He returned home to Grand Forks, North Dakota, married, moved to Richfield, Minnesota, raised two daughters and three sons, and worked as an electrician for 39 years.
He dedicated himself for years to the telling of the story of the first American flag raised and flown on Mount Suribachi, only to have his account called into question, until the facts of it became known to the general public. He often spoke at schools, sharing his memories of his wartime service with the children. In 1995, he returned to Iwo Jima for the 50th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima.
In a tribute to Lindberg, KARE TV ran the following report:
- At Fort Snelling, Friday, June 29th, 2007 the nation bid farewell to a true World War II hero. Marine Chuck Lindberg was laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
- The thundering jet fighters and some vintage WWII planes flew overhead to pay tribute. And it was well deserved.
- Lindberg was the last survivor of the first flag-raising on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi. But his moment was overshadowed by a second flag-raising. He spent a lifetime correcting the record.
- Still, on this Friday at Fort Snelling, there was no doubt about history's record.
- During the ceremony one of Lindberg's daughters, Diane Steiger said, "The angels needn't worry tonight, another Marine has arrived. Our hero has gone home, the heavens are safer tonight."
Military awards and decorations
Lindberg's military awards include:
- Silver Star Medal
- Purple Heart Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon
- Presidential Unit Citation with 5⁄16 silver battle star
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 3⁄16 bronze star
- World War II Victory Medal
Portrayal in films
In the 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers, Lindberg was played by Alessandro Mastrobuono. Lindberg is the only character to appear in both Flags and its companion film, Letters from Iwo Jima, although in Letters he is uncredited and simply seen in the same shot of both films, rushing towards a bunker with a flamethrower.
- List of U.S. Marines
- Last Iwo Jima Flag Raiser and IBEW Member Charles Lindberg Dies
- Marine Corps War Memorial
- Chicago Tribune, "Iwo Jima Flag Raiser Lindberg Dies at 86", June 25 2007
- "America's Greatest Generation: Marine Heroes: Raymond Jacobs". World War II Stories — In Their Own Words. October 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima, by Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Retired), 1994, from the National Park Service.
- Picture of the first flag raising
- Image of the first flag being lowered as the second flag is raised, Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 112718.
-  Richmond Daily News, "Camden-Fleming man an unsung hero at Iwo Jima", January 2, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
- Bradley, James. Flags of Our Fathers, p. 205.
- Farewell to a Hero