Iwo Jima flag raiser, and the only Naval officer of the six men.
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Iwo Jima Flag Raiser
February 23, 1945 | Iwo Jima, Japan
John Bradley helped raise the flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was the only Navy man of the group. He was from Antigo, Wisconsin, and finished an apprenticeship with a funeral director before joining the Navy. He wanted to avoid combat so he became a medical corpsman with the Marines. During the Battle of Iwo Jima he jumped in to help the five Marines carry the American flag. After the war and the bond tour on which Bradley served with Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon, he returned home to Wisconsin and started putting his life back together. Like Hayes and Gagnon, the only other survivors of the flag-raising team, John Bradley did not feel he deserved the fame he received for raising a flag. In one of the few interviews he gave, he stated, “People refer to us as heroes—I personally don’t look at it that way. I just think that I happened to be at a certain place at certain time, and anybody on that island could have been there.” Bradley went on to live a full life, having eight children with his wife of 47 years. He started a funeral business which led him to modest success. He died at the age of 70, never forgetting, but not allowing the memories of Iwo Jima to destroy him. His son, James Bradley, wrote the bestseller Flags of Our Fathers that memorializes all six flag raisers and pays tribute to his father who lived a life that would honor his fallen comrades.
Navy Cross Citation
21 February 1945 | Iwo Jima
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Pharmacist's Mate Second Class John Henry Bradley, United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous devotion to duty while serving as a Corpsman attached to a Marine Rifle platoon of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Iwo Jima, on 21 February 1945. During a furious assault by his company upon a strongly defended enemy zone at the base of Mt. Suribachi, Pharmacist's Mate Second Class Bradley observed a Marine infantryman fall wounded in an open area under a pounding barrage by mortars, interlaced with a merciless crossfire from Machine guns. With complete disregard for his own safety, he ran through the intense fire to the side of the fallen Marine, examined his wounds and ascertained that an immediate administration of plasma was necessary to save the man's life. Unwilling to subject any of his comrades to the danger to which he had so valiantly exposed himself, he signaled would-be assistants to remain where they were. Placing himself in a position to shield the wounded man, he tied a plasma unit to a rifle planted upright in the sand and continued his life saving mission. The Marine's wounds bandaged and the condition of shock relieved by plasma, Bradley pulled the man thirty yards through intense enemy fire to a position of safety. His indomitable spirit, dauntless initiative, and heroic devotion to duty were an inspiration to those with who he served and were in keeping with the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service.