February 23, 1945 — Iwo Jima
Franklin Sousley assisted his team in raising the flag on Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima. Franklin came from Kentucky where his family grew tobacco. He was only 9 years old when his father died, and from this young age he felt a weight of responsibility. Nevertheless, his comrades described him as a happy, practical joker. He enlisted at 17 and set sail for the Pacific on his 18th birthday. Although young and strong, the harsh fighting of Iwo Jima caught up to him. Of the six flag raisers, three died on Iwo Jima, and Franklin was the last. He died on March 21, 1945, shot by a sniper’s bullet. According to the Arlington National Cemetery’s website, when Sousley was shot, a fellow soldier asked him how he was, and he replied, “Not bad. I don’t feel anything.” Franklin shortly died. When news reached his mother, neighbors could hear her screaming from across their fields. Franklin Sousley was only 19 years old. He is buried at the Elizaville Cemetery, Kentucky.