James Michels

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James R. Michels
First Iwo Jima Flag Raising.jpg
Michels (in foreground with carbine) on Mount Suribachi
Born (1918-01-18)January 18, 1918
Chicago, Illinois
Died January 17, 1982(1982-01-17) (aged 63)
Riverside, Illinois
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Rank Private First Class
Unit 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of Iwo Jima
Awards Combat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation
World War II Victory Medal

Private First Class James R. Michels (January 18, 1918 – January 17, 1982) was a former United States Marine who was part of the combat patrol that climbed up Mount Suribachi and raised the first American flag, during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, on February 23, 1945.[1]


Lowery's most widely circulated picture of the first American flag raising on Mount Suribachi. This picture is usually captioned as: 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier with Platoon Sergeant Ernest I. Thomas, Jr. (both seated), PFC James Michels (in foreground with carbine), Sergeant Henry O. Hansen (standing, wearing soft cap), Corporal Charles W. Lindberg (standing, extreme right).
However, PFC Raymond Jacobs disputed these identifications,[2] and asserted that it should be: Pfc James Robeson (lower left corner; not visible in this cropped version of the photo), Lt. Harold Schrier (sitting behind radioman's legs), Pfc. Raymond Jacobs (carrying radio), Sgt. Henry Hansen (cloth cap), unknown, lower hand on pole (Pvt. Phil Ward), Sgt Ernest Thomas (back to camera), Phm2c John Bradley (helmet above Thomas), Pfc, James Michels (with carbine), Cpl Charles Lindberg (above Michels).

James Michels was born in Riverside, Cook County, Illinois, in 1918.

Michels joined the United States Marine Corps during World War II.

He took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima which began on February 19, 1945. On February 23, 1945, while serving with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division, he was part of a 40-man combat patrol that climbed Mount Suribachi to help capture the summit and raise the American flag to signal the mountain was captured.

He was immortalized in SSgt. Lou Lowery's photograph of the first American flag raising over Iwo Jima.

He returned to and lived in Riverside, Illinois after the war. He died there on January 17, 1982.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ On February 23, 1945, the American flag was raised twice on Mount Suribachi. The smaller first flag was raised in the morning and captured on film by U.S. Marine photographer Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery. The iconic second flag raising occurred around noon and was captured on film by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. See Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.
  2. ^ "America's Greatest Generation: Marine Heroes: Raymond Jacobs". World War II Stories — In Their Own Words. October 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 


  • Marling, Karal Ann Marling and John Wetenhall (1991). Iwo Jima: Monuments, Memories, and the American Hero. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-46980-1.