Louis R. Lowery

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Louis R. Lowery
Nickname(s) Lou
Born (1916-07-24)July 24, 1916
Died April 15, 1987(1987-04-15) (aged 70)
Place of burial Quantico National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Rank Captain
Battles/wars Battle of Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa
Awards Purple Heart Medal (2)
Combat Action Ribbon
Other work Leatherneck Magazine
United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association

Louis R. "Lou" Lowery (July 24, 1916 – April 15, 1987) was a United States Marine Corps captain. He was a combat photographer during World War II and is best known for taking the first photographs of the first American flag that was raised on top of Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima on the morning of February 23, 1945. Lowery was the only Marine Corps photographer to cover six major campaigns during World War II.

Lowery was the founder and former president of the United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association (USMCCCA). He also was a photographic director of Leatherneck Magazine, a publication of the Marine Corps. He died on April 15, 1987 at age 70 from aplastic anemia and is buried in Quantico National Cemetery in Prince William County, Virginia near the Marine Corps War Memorial.[1] In 2006, Lowery was portrayed by actor David Hornsby in film Flags of Our Fathers.

Battle of Iwo Jima[edit]

U.S. Flag raising[edit]

On February 23, 1945, Lowery then a staff sergeant, accompanied the 40-man combat patrol that climbed Mount Suribachi to attack and capture the mountaintop, and raise the American flag if possible to signal that it was captured. The patrol led by 1st Lt. Harold Schrier,[2] captured and secured the mountaintop and raised the flag attached to a steel water pipe about 10:30 A.M. Immediately after the flag was raised, a short firefight took place after Japanese soldiers came out of a cave. An enemy grenade was tossed, and Lowery fell with his camera several feet down the side of the crater from the blast. Though Lowery was unhurt, his camera was damaged but the film was intact.

The actual flag raising (not photographed) was done by Schrier (a former Marine Raider), Platoon Sgt. Ernest Thomas (a former drill instructor), and Sgt. Henry Hansen (a former Paramarine), according to Sgt. Thomas who did a news interview aboard the flagship USS Eldorado (AGC-11) after meeting with Vice Admiral Richmond K. Turner and Lieutenant General Holland Smith on February 25, 1945. Most of the patrol members were from Third Platoon, Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division; Pfc. Raymond Jacobs was the radioman reassigned from F Company for the patrol. Hansen was killed in action on Iwo Jima on March 1, and Thomas on March 3, 1945.

The flag was determined to be too small to be seen easily from the nearby landing beaches on Iwo Jima, so a second and larger replacement flag attached to another pipe was raised and planted by a group of six different flag-raisers around noon the same day which resulted in the famous photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Photography later that year. Schrier was in command when the first flag attached to a pipe came down while at the same time the second flag attached to pipe went up. Rosenthal whose photos were processed days before Lowery's photos were, had been sent up Mount Suribchi with two armed Marine photographers, SSgt. Bill Genaust and Pvt. Bob Campbell, after the first flag was raised. While he was coming down, Lowery met and informed Rosenthal and the two Marine photographers about the first flag raising.

On March 14, by orders of General Smith, another flag was officially raised on the northern end of Iwo Jima and the flag on Mount Suribachi was taken down. The battle of Iwo Jima was officially over on March 26.

Lowery photos[edit]

Lowery, a Marine Corps war photographer who was wounded twice in combat during six battles in World War II, took several of the first photos going up and on top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Due to an agreement between the Associated Press and the Marine Corps, Lowery's photos taken on Iwo Jima weren't published until 1947, when sixteen of his photos appeared in Leatherneck Magazine. Two of the most circulated photos of the first American flag raised and flown on Mount Suribachi (Iwo Jima), by SSgt. Lou Lowery:[3]

First Iwo Jima Flag Raising.jpg

First photo (Left):
Left to Right: 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier (crouched behind radioman's lower legs),[4] Pfc. Raymond Jacobs (radioman), Sgt. Henry "Hank" Hansen (cloth cap), looking downward while he's helping to steady the flag pipe with his left hand, Pvt. Phil Ward (helmeted), securing the lower part of pipe in the ground, Platoon Sgt. Ernest "Boots" Thomas (seated), PhM2c John Bradley, USN (helmeted, securing the pipe in the ground above Pvt. Ward, Pfc). James Michels (holding M1 carbine), Cpl. Charles W. Lindberg (standing above Michels).

Subsequent photo (Right):
1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier (flag raiser) remains crouched and hidden behind Pfc. Jacob's (radioman) lower legs, Sgt. Henry Hansen (cloth cap) holding the pipe steady with his left hand is now looking upward, Ward and Bradley are still securing the flag pipe in the ground, and Platoon Sgt. Thomas remains seated. Michels (holding M1 carbine) and Lindberg (standing above Michels) remain in same positions as before. Pvt. Harold Schultz (helmet) appears now in the photo at the far lower left and Sgt. Howard Synder appears now in the photo standing at the far right.

Louis R. Lowery Award[edit]

The "Louis R. Lowery Award", sponsored by Leatherneck magazine and the Marine Corps Association, is presented for photo of the year appearing in Leatherneck or as its cover.

Lowery headstone[edit]

Lowery was buried at the Quantico National Cemetery in 1987, followed by his wife Doris in 2004.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] World War II Graves
  2. ^ [2] Richmond News, Camden-Fleming man an unsung hero at Iwo Jima, January 2, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2015
  3. ^ [3] Combat Camera, Louis R. Lowey. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  4. ^ [4] Richmond News, Camden-Fleming man an unsung hero at Iwo Jima, January 2, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2014.

External links[edit]