Charles W. Lindberg

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"Charles Lindberg" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Charles Lindbergh.
Charles W. Lindberg
Born June 26, 1920
Died June 24, 2007(2007-06-24) (aged 86)
Buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Rank Corporal
Unit 2nd Battalion 28th Marines

World War II

Awards Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon

Charles W. "Chuck" Lindberg (June 26, 1920 – June 24, 2007) was a United States Marine corporal during World War II who was a member 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 on February 23, 1945. He was one of the last surviving members who participated in the flag raising.[1]

U.S. Marine Corps[edit]

World War II[edit]

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[edit]

Lindberg was assigned as a flamethrower operator in 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division. On February 19, 1945, he landed with the fifth assault wave on the southeast beach of Iwo Jima close to where Mount Suribahi was located at the southern end of the island. The 28th Marine Regiment's objective was to take Suribachi. The base of Mount Suribachi wasn't reached and surrounded until February 22 because of heavy fighting. On February 23, Lindberg was part of the 40-man combat patrol that climbed up Mount Suribachi to seize and occupy the crest and raise the American flag. On March 1, Lindberg was wounded in the right forearm by a Japanese sniper and was evacuated off the island. He received the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action from February 19 to March 1, 1945 on Iwo Jima.

1st Flag raising[edit]
Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima
Lowery's most widely circulated picture of the first flag flown on Mount Suribachi (after the flag was raised).
Left to right: 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier (kneeling next to radio operator), Pfc. Raymond Jacobs (radio operator), Sgt. Henry Hansen (soft cap, holding flagstaff), Pvt. Phil Ward (holding lower flagstaff), Platoon Sgt. Ernest Thomas (seated), PhM2c. John Bradley, USN (holding flagstaff above Ward), Pfc. James Michels (in foreground with M1 carbine), and Cpl. Charles Lindberg (standing, extreme right).

On February 23, 1945, under the Second Battalion Commander's orders, E Company's executive officer 1st Lt. Schrier was to lead a 40-man combat patrol which made up of Marines mostly from Third Platoon, E Company including two Navy corpsmen and a Marine combat photographer, to seize and occupy the crest of 556-foot Mount Suribachi, and raise the 2nd Battalion's American flag at the summit to signal that the Suribachi was captured. At 8 a.m., the patrol started climbing the mountain. In less than an hour later and after receiving occasional Japanese sniper fire, the patrol reached the rim of the volcano. After a brief firefight, Lt. Schrier and his men 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 which he carried for the battalion, was given to Schrier by the adjutant (or battalion commander) before the climb up the mountain,[2] was attached to a long piece of a Japanese water pipe by Lt. Schrier, Sgt. Henry Hansen and Cpl. Lindberg with the help of Platoon Sergeant Ernest Thomas and Pvt. Phil Ward who held the pipe for them. The flagstaff was then carried to the highest part on the crater, and raised and planted by Schrier, Thomas, and Hansen (Lindberg and Ward helped them plant the flagstaff) about 10:20 to 10:37 a.m.[3][4] Due to the terrific winds on Suribachi, Third Platoon corpsman John Bradley pitched in to help stabilize the flagstaff in the ground. The group around the base of the flagstaff which included Schrier's radioman Raymond Jacobs (assigned to patrol from F Company), was photographed by Staff Sgt. Louis R. Lowery, a photographer with Leatherneck magazine who accompanied the patrol up the mountain (Lowery's photos were not released until September 1947).[5][6][7] Seeing the raising of the national colors immediately caused loud cheering from the Marines, sailors, and coast guardsmen on the beach below and from the men on the ships near the beach. Thomas and Hansen were later killed in action in March.

2nd flag raising[edit]

The 2nd Battalion's flag was considered to be too small to be seen easily from the north side of Mount Suribachi where more Japanese soldiers were located and more fighting would occur in the days ahead. It was determined by the Marines in charge about two hours or more later, that another larger flag would replace the flag flying on Mount Suribachi. While Lindberg was reloading his flamethrower tanks below Mount Suribachi, a larger replacement flag from another ship on shore was taken to be brought up to the top of Suribachi. Four Marines from Second Platoon, E Company, ascended Suribachi to raise this flag.

The flag was attached to another and heavier pipe and raised by the four Marines plus an additional two Marines, one the battalion runner (messenger) for E Company who brought the flag up Suribachi and another Marine who was on present at the first flag raising.[8] on the mountain top simultaneous with the lowering of the first flag (Lindberg included in his many public talks about the first flag raising event on Mount Suribachi, that the 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines commander, Lt. Colonel Johnson (KIA, March 2), had ordered the first flag replaced and safeguarded in order to make sure it was kept for his battalion after the battle).

Joe Rosenthal's (Associated Press) historical flag-raising photograph of the second flag-raising on Mount Suribachi appeared in Sunday newspapers on February 25, 1945, as the only flag-raising on Mount Suribachi. This flag raising was also filmed in color by Bill Genaust who in March would be killed in action. Besides Rosenthal, other photographers ascended the mountain after the first flag was raised and the mountaintop secured, including Marine photographers, a U.S. Army, and U.S. Coast Guard photographer. The photographers took photos of the Marines, corpsmen, flags flying, and themselves. Five of the six second flag-raisers (Bradley was misidentified as being Franklin Sousley who was Pfc. Harold Schultz in the photograph until June 2016)[9] would receive a lifetime of national recognition and fame while the Marines who captured Mount Suribachi including Lindberg, Jacobs, and another Navy corpsman, would generally miss out in the recognition they were entitled to.

Post-war and later life[edit]

Main article: Battle of Iwo Jima

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 and his part in it, 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 the fall of 2007, he attended his last reunion of Third Platoon, E Company, 28th Marines which was held in Washington, D.C.[10]

Marine Corps War Memorial[edit]

Joe Rosenthal's photograph of the second-flag raising, inspired the creation of the huge Marine Corps War Memorial (sometime referred to as the Iwo Jma Memorial) in Arlington, Virginia, which was dedicated on November 10, 1954 (179th anniversary of the Marine Corps). The first flag-raising on Mount Suribachi was not given recognition. Harold Schrier, Charles Lindberg, and Lou Lowery attended the ceremony.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower attended the memorial's dedication and sat upfront with Vice President Richard Nixon and Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Anderson. Also in attendance were two of the three surviving flag-raisiers depicted on the monument, Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon, who were seated together with John Bradley (misidentified as a flag-raiser until June 2016)[11] in the front rows of seats along with relatives of the those who were killed in action on the island.[12] Speeches were given by Richard Nixon, Robert Anderson who dedicated the memorial, and Lemuel Shepherd, the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps who presented the memorial to the American people.[13] Inscribed on the memorial are the following words:

In Honor And Memory Of The Men of The United States Marine Corps Who Have Given Their Lives To Their Country Since 10 November, 1775


Lindberg died at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minnesota on June 24, 2007. 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."[14]

Military awards[edit]

Lindberg's military decorations and awards include:

Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart Medal Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation with 316" bronze star
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 316" bronze star World War II Victory Medal

Silver Star Medal citation[edit]

Lindberg's Silver Star Medal citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as Flame Thrower Operator of Company E, Second Battalion, Twenty-Eight Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 February to 1 March 1945. Repeatedly exposing himself to hostile grenades and machine-gun fire in order that he might reach and neutralize enemy pill-boxes at the bast of Mount Suribachi, Corporal Lindberg courageously approached within ten or fifeteen yards of the emplacements before discharging his weapon, thereby assuring annihilation of the enemy and the successful completion of his platoon's mission. As a member of the first combat patrol to scale Mount Suribachi, he courageously carried his flame thrower to the steep slopes and assisted in destroying the occupants of the many caves found in the rim of the volcano, some of which contained as many as seventy Japanese. While engaged in an attack on hostile cave positions on March 1, he fearlessly exposed himself to accurate enenmy fire and was subsequently wounded and evacuated. By his determinations in manning his weapon, despite its weight and the extreme heat developed in operation, Corporal Lindberg greatly assisted in securing his company's position. His courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Portrayal in films[edit]

In the film Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Lindberg is 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.

Public honors[edit]

  • The Feedom Defenders Veterans Memorial (Lindberg statue and plaque, 2006) in Bemidji, Minnesota.[15]
  • The Charles "Chuck" W. Lindberg JATC 292 Electrical Training Center (2007) in Minneapolis, Minnesota[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chicago Tribune, "Iwo Jima Flag Raiser Lindberg Dies at 86", June 25 2007
  2. ^ "The Man Who Carried the Flag on Iwo Jima", by G. Greeley Wells, New York Times, October 17, 1991, p. A-26
  3. ^ [1] Richmond News, Camden-Fleming man an unsung hero at Iwo Jima, January 2, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2014
  4. ^ [2] Rural Florida Living. Thomas was interviewed by CBS radio broadcaster Dan Pryor on February 25, 1945, aboard the USS Eldorado (AGC-11): "Three of us actually raised the flag".
  5. ^ Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima, by Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Retired), 1994, from the National Park Service.
  6. ^ Picture of the first flag raising
  7. ^ Image of the first flag being lowered as the second flag is raised, Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 112718.
  8. ^ USMC Statement on Marine Corps Flag Raisers, Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication, 23 June 2016
  9. ^ USMC Statement on Marine Corps Flag Raisers, Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication, 23 June 2016
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ USMC Statement on Marine Corps Flag Raisers, Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication, 23 June 2016
  12. ^ "Memorial honoring Marines dedicated". Reading Eagle (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 1. 
  13. ^ "Marine monument seen as symbol of hopes, dreams". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 2. 
  14. ^ Farewell to a Hero
  15. ^ [4] Freedom Defenders Veterans Memorial
  16. ^ [5]

External links[edit]