Contrasts on the West Coast:

JarHeadDad sends two stories this morning that touch on the universities of California. They are on patriotism and anti-patriotism, and offer an interesting contrast on the Marine Corps birthday.

The first is about the Pledge of Allegiance.

Calif. College Ends Pledge of Allegiance
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) - Student leaders at a community college voted to drop the Pledge of Allegiance after a tense meeting in which one flag-waving pledge supporter berated them as anti-American radicals.

Orange Coast College's student trustees voted Wednesday not to recognize the pledge, with three of the five board members saying it should be dropped from their meetings.

Board member Jason Ball argued that the pledge inspires nationalism, violates the separation between church and state with the phrase "under God," and is irrelevant to the business of student government. He cited a 2002 San Francisco federal appeals court ruling - later dismissed by the Supreme Court on a technicality - that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

Sophomore Chris Belanger, one of several students who attended the meeting to support keeping the pledge, waved an American flag and accused the board of "radical views and anti-Americanism."

Coast Community College District spokeswoman Martha Parham said the decision was up to the students.

"They run their own show, so to speak," she said.
I wouldn't object to a decision not to say the pledge of allegience at every single meeting of your committee. The pledge isn't something that has to be repeated over and over to take effect. It's an oath, which -- when sworn by an adult -- is binding.

What I wonder about is the wording, "not to recognize the pledge." That seems an odd thing to say. Not to require it; not to perform it as part of the rituals of the meeting; I can understand that. But what does it mean to say that you don't recognize it?

Anyway, that's the first story. The second treats a graduate of the University of California's efforts to set the record straight on the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. He came across an injustice in making a film, and made a promise.
Local war hero finally recognized

By John M. Flora

Phil Ward, who died in relative obscurity last December, is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

While his friends and family knew Ward, a native of Mace, was a veteran of the fierce World War II battle for Iwo Jima, almost nobody knew he was one of the Marines who raised the first American flag atop Mount Suribachi.

And it's only in the last few months the Marine Corps and others have come to recognize his role in that historic gesture that gave hope and encouragement to his fellow Marines locked in deadly combat with the island's fanatical Japanese defenders.

Associated Press Photographer Joe Rosenthal's iconic photograph of the Iwo Jima flag-raising is actually of the second U.S. flag erected on Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. Photos of the first flag-raising, that include Ward and other members of a patrol led by Lt. Harold Shrier, had less artistic appeal than Rosenthal's shot. They were ignored at a time when a stronger image was needed to boost homefront morale.

The Marine Corps was heavily invested in the Rosenthal image. It became the basis of the Marine Corps War Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery and inspired the architecture of the National Museum of the Marine Corps being dedicated this week at Quantico, Va. Consequently, Sgt. Lou Lowery's pictures of the first flag-raising were suppressed by the Corps for decades.

Ward, of Crawfordsville, died Dec. 28 in a hospital near his winter home in McAllen, Texas at the age of 79. His funeral was Jan. 3 and his ashes were interred Jan. 19 at Arlington.

He was two weeks shy of his 19th birthday when he and his buddies in E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, hit the beach on Iwo Jima and charged into one of the bloodiest fights in the history of the Corps.

Early on the morning of Feb. 23, 1945, a reconnaissance patrol scaled the 560-foot Suribachi to scout Japanese positions around the volcanic crater.

They met no opposition and concluded the Japanese were dug in. Raymond Jacobs, then a young radioman, recalled that a second patrol was organized to attack and secure the top of Mt. Suribachi.

Jacobs, a retired newsman who now lives in Lake Tahoe, Calif., said Lt. Shrier was put in command of the patrol and was given an American flag to take with him. Jacobs said he was assigned to the patrol to provide a radio link with battalion headquarters.

As the column of about 40 men set out up the steep slope, Jacobs recalled, they were led by Cpl. Charles Lindberg and Pvt. Robert Goode, each carrying a flame-thrower. Tagging along was combat photographer Lowrey.

"The sides of Suribachi were very steep," Jacobs said. "The ground we were climbing had been chewed and churned by bombing, naval gunfire and our own artillery ... The climb was so steep and the ground so broken that at times we were crawling on hands and knees."

Reaching the top, the Marines moved quickly along the rim, he said, and Lt. Shrier spread the patrol in a defensive perimeter around the inner rim of facing inward toward the center of the crater.

Jacobs said he saw several Marines pulling a piece of Japanese water pipe from the ground to use as a flagpole.

One of Lowery's photos shows a group of Marines tying the flag to the pipe. Jacobs and others believe one of the men is Phil Ward.

He said Lt. Shrier's command group moved to the highest point on the crater preparing to push the flag pole into the ground and Cpl. Lindberg kicked at the ground to clear a hole for the flag pole. Jacobs said the pole was jammed into the ground and the men took turns pushing it deeper, kicking dirt and jamming rocks around the base to stabilize it.

"Just moments after the flag was raised we heard a roar from down below on the island. Marines on the ground, still engaged in combat, raised a spontaneous yell when they saw the flag. Screaming and cheering so loud and prolonged that we could hear it quite clearly on top of Suribachi," Jacobs said.

"The boats on the beach and the ships at sea joined in blowing horns and whistles. The celebration went on for many minutes. It was a highly emotional, strongly patriotic moment for all of us."

Chuck Tatum, author of "Red Blood, Black Sand," an account of the battle for Iwo Jima, and himself a Marine Corps veteran of the invasion's first wave, was dug into the black volcanic sand below the mountain at the time.

"All of a sudden, my assistant gunner was hitting me with his entrenching tool on the foot, and I turned to him and said, Steve, what are you doing?,' and he said, 'Tatum! Tatum! Look, they got the flag on Suribachi!'"

"I think that pride engulfed me. When you saw that, there's no way to describe the emotions that went through your body."

Clark Jamison, a sailor aboard the U.S.S. Estes who was coordinating air strikes on Japanese positions, recalled he was about two miles from Suribachi.

"I saw it and I yelled, 'The flag is going up on Suribachi.' There was an overwhelming yell from the crew and from the amphibious group ... Everybody turned and looked in that direction. Everyone was so elated and so proud to see the Stars and Stripes on Suribachi."

"You know, we were very young, fully indoctrinated in the Marine Corps lore and tradition and when you see the flag, it just had a very special meaning to you," Jacobs said.

"The Japanese, apparently enraged by the sight of our colors, hit us with rifle fire and a barrage of grenades," Jacobs said. "We responded with flame throwers, grenades, BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and rifle fire. I remember seeing individual Marines and fire teams running toward the caves firing as they ran. We burned and blasted caves on both sides of the crater rim and soon it was over - intense but brief with Japanese resistance buried."

He said Lowery was the only Marine Corps casualty when he fell over backwards trying to avoid a grenade and suffered bumps and bruises in a 20 or 30-yard slide down the steep slope. His camera was smashed but his film undamaged, Jacobs said.

A short time later, a larger flag was sent up the mountain to replace the first.

By that time, AP photographer Rosenthal was on hand to record the moment. While Ward was not in the best known photo, he is in a subsequent group shot since dubbed "the Gung-Ho photo."

Many Marines who fought on Iwo Jima, including Jacobs and Tatum, never knew there was a second flag-raising until months or years later.

In retrospect, Jacobs said, "The first flag-raising was for the Marines on the island because they reacted to it. The second flag-raising, Rosenthal's picture, was for the morale of the people back home. They reacted to it."

Perhaps it's because of a lack of official interest in the first flag-raising and Lowery's photos that historians failed to thoroughly identify the men in Lowery's pictures.

Likewise, James Bradley's best-selling "Flags of our Fathers" did not list Ward as one of the original flag-raisers.

As late as last January, it was the Corps' official position, as articulated by Leatherneck magazine editor Col. Walter E. Ford (Ret.) that Phil Ward was not in the Lowery photos and there was also official doubt that Jacobs was in the pictures.

But Dustin Spence, a 21-year-old theatre and history graduate of the University of California, Davis, has apparently succeeded in setting the record straight.

Spence had several conversations with Phil Ward last year in hopes of portraying Ward in the film version of "Flags of our Fathers," released this fall.

Spence said he is convinced beyond question that Jacobs and Ward are in the Lowrey photos.

"Phil has ring on his right hand on the ring finger in those pictures. Lou Lowrey got different perspectives of the flag-raising, circling around, and Phil is someone who is constantly holding onto that flagpole," he said.

Spence said he spoke with the reclusive Lindberg and said he "states that Phil Ward helped put up the pole."

Spence said he called Ward in a Texas hospital a few days before his death to reassure him he would continue to fight for official recognition.

"My promise to him was, 'I will tell your story'" Spence said.

Spence made good on his promise earlier this year
by persuading Col. Ford to publish a seven-page article on the first flag-raising that analyzed the Lowery photos in light of Spence's historical research.

"The article worked out very well," Spence said. "They printed more than 100,000 copies, and it's totally sold out now."

And thanks to Spence's efforts, Phil Ward's name has been added to photo captions and text in the current editions of Bradley's book.

Spence is working on a documentary titled, "Flags Over Iwo Jima" with the Los Angeles-based production company PixVfm.

He said the documentary will be unique compared to the many other Iwo Jima flag-raising documentaries because it will for the first time display the entire truth of the important flag raising event.

Spence said he hopes to get this new and important information out to the general public and do service to this important event in American history.

For more information, visit Spence's website at
Now that's praiseworthy.

No comments: