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 w/ Combat "V"
Bronze Star Medal w/ Combat "V"
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon (2)
Harold George Schrier (October 17, 1916 – June 3, 1971) was a United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who served in World War II and the Korean War and received 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 which raised the first United States flag on the summit, on February 23, 1945.
U.S. Marine Corps career
Harold 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 Marine Corps Recruit Depot 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 to 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, such as observation 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 E Company, 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.
On February 19, 1945, E Company, 2/28 Marines, landed on the southern beach near Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
On February 23, 1945, Lt. Schrier volunteered to lead a 40-man combat patrol with members mostly from Third Platoon, E Company, to seize and occupy the crest of 556-foot Mount Suribachi, and raise an American flag at the summit to signal that the mountaintop was captured (the flag measuring 54 by 28 inches (137 by 71 cm) was handed to Schrier by the Second battalion adjutant who had taken it from the attack transport USS Missoula (APA-211) before they landed on Iwo Jima). At 8 a.m., the patrol started climbing the mountain. In less than an hour later and after receiving occasional Japanese small arms fire, the patrol reached the rim of the volcano. After a brief firefight, Schrier and his men captured the summit. The battalion's flag was attached to a long section of Japanese water pipe by Lt. Schrier, Sgt. Henry Hansen, and Cpl. Charles Lindberg (with the help of Platoon Sgt. Ernest Thomas, and Pvt. Phil Ward who held the pipe off the ground for them). The flagstaff was then carried to the highest part on the crater where it was raised and planted by Lt. Schrier, Platoon Sgt. Thomas, and Sgt. Hansen, about 10:20 to 10:37 a.m. 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 was killed in action on March 3 and Hansen on March 1. Schrier later received a Navy Cross for volunteering to lead the patrol up Mount Suribachi and raising the flag.
Pictures of the Marines and the flag were first photographed by Marine Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery, a photographer with Leatherneck magazine, who accompanied the patrol . Members of Schrier's patrol present and photographed at the flag raising included, Marine Sgt. Howard M. Snyder, Cpl. Charles W. Lindberg, Pfc. Raymond Jacobs (attached F Company radioman), Pfc. James Michels, Pfc. Harold H. Schultz, Pvt. Phil Ward, and Navy corpsman, PhM2c. John H. Bradley.
The American flag flying on Mount Suribachi was considered too small to be seen easily from the northern part from Mount Suribachi, 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 shorter and heavier 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. On February 24, Schrier ordered Thomas to report the next morning aboard the flagship USS Eldorado (AGC-11) to meet with Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner and Lieutenant General Holland Smith. Once there, he met with the two officers and a CBS radio interviewer. On February 27, Schrier became the commander of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines. He was later 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 14, another American flag was officially raised (by orders of Lt. Gen. Holland Smith) by two Marines at Kitano Point on the northern end of the island and the flag flying on the summit of Mt. Suribachi was taken down. On March 26, 1945, the island was considered secure and the battle of Iwo Jima was officially ended. Schrier and the 28th Marines left Iwo Jima on March 27 and returned to Hawaii with the 5th Marine Division.
Schrier served in San Diego from July to October. Afterwards he served 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. While serving as the Brigade Adjutant, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions in August and September 1950 during the Battle of Pusan Perimeter. On December 1, while serving as the company commander of I Company, 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.
Marine Corps War Memorial
The Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) in Arlington, Virginia which was inspired by Rosenthal's photograph of the second flag raising on Mount Suribachi was dedicated on November 10, 1954 (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 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 monunment, Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon, who were seated together with John Bradley (was misidentified as being a flag-raiser) in the front rows of seats along with relatives of those who were killed in action on the island. 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. 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
Retirement and death
Schrier was promoted to major, and was a Marine Corps Recruiting officer in Birmingham, Alabama, and a Provost Marshal at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. He retired from the Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel in 1957.
Schrier's military decorations and awards include:
- Navy Cross
- Silver Star Medal
- Legion of Merit with Combat "V"
- Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"
- Purple Heart Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon with 5⁄16" gold star
- Navy Presidential Unit Citation with three 3⁄16" bronze stars
- Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
- China Service Medal
- American Defense Service Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 3⁄16" silver 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 (2)
- United Nations Service Medal
- Republic of Korea War Service Medal
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).
- Flags of Our Fathers, 2006 (Lieutenant Schrier, USMC, was played by actor Jason Gray-Stanford).
- "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
-  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".
- 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.
- The Marine Corps War Memorial Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
- USMC Statement on Marine Corps Flag Raisers, Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication, 23 June 2016
- "Memorial honoring Marines dedicated". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 1.
- "Marine monument seen as symbol of hopes, dreams". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 2.
- "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.