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The Arcane Texas Fact of the Day:

Many Texans know that Harlon Block, a Texan, is the man planting the flag on the far right in the famous photo of the marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. Sadly, Block was killed in action just a week later, on March 1, 1945. When that photo was released it was an instant sensation back home. Everybody wanted to know the identities of the Marines in the photo, but Harlon Block's back was to the camera and he was misidentified as another Marine who had also lost his life on the island. For two years, the Marine holding the pole was thought to be Henry Hanson.

But in May, 1946 the man shown in this photo, Ira Hayes, appeared at the home of Ed Block, Harlon Block's father, in Weslaco, Texas. Having hitchhiked 1300 miles in three days from his home on the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, Ira Hayes ---- who had fought on Iwo Jima and survived the war ---- walked out into the cotton field where Ed Block was working. There the native Pima Indian told him that the man planting the flag in the picture was actually his son, Harlon.

After only a few minutes of conversation, Hayes turned around and hitchhiked back home to Arizona, his last service to a fellow Marine completed. After an inquiry, Harlon Block was correctly identified and took his honored place in history.

Ira Hayes died in 1955 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
- Via Traces of Texas
11 months ago

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