Harold G. Schrier
|Harold G. Schrier|
October 17, 1916|
|Died||June 3, 1971
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1936-1957|
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon (2)
Harold George Schrier (October 17, 1916 – June 3, 1971) was a retired United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. He served during World War II and the Korean War, and was a recipient of the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest military award for valor. He is best known for being the Marine officer who led a 40-man patrol to the top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima to capture the summit and raise the United States flag on February 23, 1945.
U.S. Marine Corps career
Schrier enlisted in the Marine Corps on November 12, 1936. After recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, he was sent to China as a US Embassy guard in Beijing. He also served in Tientsin and Shanghai. In August 1940, he became a drill instructor at the recruit depot in San Diego.
World War II
In early 1942, Schrier joined the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Elliott, San Diego, being promoted to platoon sergeant in April 1942. In June 1942, he was part of two 2nd Raider Battalion companies that were sent to Midway Island to bolster the garrison there. He participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal and found himself taking part in the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion's epic "Long Patrol" behind enemy lines from November-December 1942. During this action, he distinguished himself by leading part of his cut off company to safety after his company commander erroneously led them into a hostile situation. In early 1943, he was promoted to second lieutenant in the field. Subsequently he was detached to other duties within the Raider organization, carrying out duties such as observing and reconnaissance on enemy held islands before larger units made assault landings. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his work at Vangunu Island during the New Georgia Campaign in June 1943. He also served at Bougainville, in support of military actions there. In February 1944, he returned to the United States to become an infantry instructor at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
He was assigned next to be the executive officer of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. In September, the 5th Division was sent to Hawaii for further training. In January 1945, the 5th Division left for the assault and capture of Iwo Jima.
Raising the flag on Iwo Jima
On February 19, 1945, Company E, 2/28 Marines, landed on the southern beach near Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. On February 23, 1945, Lt. Schrier of Company E, volunteered to lead a 40-man combat patrol from Third Platoon up to the top of 556-foot Mount Suribachi, and raise an American flag at the summit to signal that the mountaintop was captured. At 8 a.m, the patrol started climbing the mountain and in less than an hour and after receiving occasional Japanese small arms fire, the patrol reached and captured the summit. A flag measuring 54 by 28 inches (137 by 71 cm) which had been taken from the attack transport USS Missoula (APA-211) by the Second Battalion adjutant was attached to a pipe by Schrier and three Marines. The flag was then raised and planted about 10:20 to 10:37 a.m. by Lt. Schrier, assisted by his platoon sergeant. On February 24, Schrier's platoon sergeant Ernest Thomas, reported aboard the flagship USS Eldorado (AGC-11), and during a news interview on February 25, stated that Schrier, Thomas, and Sgt. Henry Hansen actually raised the flag. Schrier received a Navy Cross for volunteering to lead the patrol up Mount Suribachi and raise the flag. Pictures of the flag and Marines were first photographed by Marine Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery, a photographer with Leatherneck magazine, who accompanied the patrol .Members of the Company E patrol present and photographed at the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi included, Marine Sgt. Howard M. Snyder, Cpl. Charles W. Lindberg, Pfc. Raymond Jacobs (attached Company F radioman), Pfc. James Michels, Pfc. Harold H. Schultz, Pvt. Phil Ward, and Navy Pharmacist Mate Second Class John H. Bradley.
The American flag flying on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 was considered too small to be seen easily from the nearby landing beaches and ships, so the flag was replaced shortly before 1 p.m. on the same day it went up by a larger American flag attached to a heavier and longer pipe. The raising of this flag became world famous due to a photograph taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. Schrier was also responsible for seeing that the replacement flag was raised on Mount Suribachi and the first flag returned to Marine headquarters on Iwo Jima. Schrier became the commander of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines after the flag raisings. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for leading a successful counterattack against a large number of fanatical Japanese soldiers who attacked the rear position of his lightly manned command post on March 24, 1945.
On March 26, 1945, the island was considered secure. He left Iwo Jima and returned to Hawaii with the 5th Marine Division. He served in San Diego from July to October, and afterwards in Seal Beach, California, Samar, Philippines, and in Yokosuka, Japan. In 1949, Schrier returned to the United States and was assigned as a technical advisor (appeared as himself) in the motion picture movie that year, Sands of Iwo Jima, starring John Wayne.
The Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950, and Schrier was sent to Korea with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in July 1950. He received the Bronze Star Medal for his actions in August and September 1950, as Adjutant during the Battle of Pusan Perimeter. On December 1, while serving as the company commander of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, he was wounded in the neck by enemy small arms fire during an all-night hill fight at Hill 1520 in North Korea. He was evacuated to Japan.
Schrier was promoted to major, and was a Marine Corps Recruiting officer in Birmingham, Alabama and a Provost Marshall at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. He retired from the Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel in 1957.
Military decorations and awards
Harold Schrier received the following military awards:
- Navy Cross
- Silver Star Medal
- Legion of Merit
- Bronze Star Medal
- Purple Heart Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon with 5⁄16 gold star
- Presidential Unit Citation with three 3⁄16 bronze stars
- Good Conduct Medal
- China Service Medal
- American Defense Service Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 3⁄16 bronze star
- World War II Victory Medal
- National Defense Service Medal
- Korean Service Medal with three 3⁄16 bronze stars
- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
- United Nations Service Medal
- Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Schrier's Navy Cross citation reads: 
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to
FIRST LIEUTENANT HAROLD G. SCHRIER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following
"For extraordinary heroism as Executive Officer of Company E, Second Battalion, Twenty-Eighth Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, on 23 February 1945. On the morning of 23 February when his combat team had advanced to the base of Mount Suribachi after four days of severe fighting, First Lieutenant SCHRIER volunteered to lead a forty-man patrol up the steep slopes of the mountain. Quickly organizing his patrol and placing himself at its head, he began the tortuous climb up the side of the volcano, followed by his patrol in single file. Employing the only known approach, an old Japanese trail, he swiftly pushed on until, covered by all the supporting weapons of his battalion, he gained the top of the mountain despite hostile small arms and artillery fire. Forced to engage the remaining enemy in a sharp fire fight, he overcame them without loss in his patrol and occupied the rim of the volcano. Although still under enemy sniper fire, First Lieutenant SCHRIER, assisted by his Platoon Sergeant, raised the National Colors over Mount Suribachi, planting the flagstaff firmly on the highest knoll overlooking the crater, the first American flag to fly over any land in the inner defenses of the Japanese Empire. His inspiring leadership, courage and determination in the face of overwhelming odds upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
For the President,
JOHN L. SULLIVAN
Secretary of the Navy
Portrayal in films
- Sands of Iwo Jima, 1949 (Capt. Harold G. Schrier, USMC as Lieutenant Harold Schrier, USMC).
- "America's Greatest Generation: Marine Heroes: Raymond Jacobs". World War II Stories — In Their Own Words. October 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- "The Man Who Carried the Flag on Iwo Jima", by G. Greeley Wells, New York Times, October 17, 1991, p. A-26
-  Richmond News, Camden-Fleming man an unsung hero at Iwo Jima, January 2, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2014
- 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.
- SECNAVINST 1650.1H, P. 1-22, 2006
- "Navy Cross Awards to members of the U.S. Marines in World War II". HomeofHeroes.com. Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2007-01-18.