On Thursday, the Marine Corps announced that the Marine pictured on the far side of the flag pole, with only his helmet visible, is Cpl. Harold P. Keller.
The Marine was originally identified as Pfc. Rene A. Gagnon, but new evidence from historians helped determine that while Gagnon contributed to the flag raising, he wasn’t actually pictured.
“Without the initiative and contributions of both private historians devoted to preservation of our history and the FBI’s support, the Marine Corps would not have this opportunity to expand on the historical record of the second flag raising on Mount Suribachi,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.
“We are extremely grateful for their dedication to helping us preserve our legacy.”
New photographic evidence
The change comes after the Corps was contacted in July 2018 by private historians who said there had been another error regarding the identity of the Marines in the photo.
The historians provided a considerable amount of new evidence, mostly dozens of previously private photographs, the Marine Corps said.
A board was formed to assess the new evidence and the FBI to helped to assess the contents of the photos, the statement said.
The board concluded that the historical record needed to be changed.
The other instance
Thursday’s announcement wasn’t the first amendment made to the identity of those in the famous photo. After an investigation, the Marine Corps announced in 2016 that Navy hospital corpsman John Bradley was not one of the men in the photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal. Instead, the man believed to be Bradley was actually Pfc. Harold Schultz.
The organization said it still honored the work of Gagnon and every Marine who supported US efforts in Iwo Jima.
“Private First Class Gagnon played a significant role in the flag raising on Mount Suribachi and his role will never be diminished,” the statement said. “He was directly responsible for getting the larger second flag to the top and returning the first flag for safe keeping. Without his efforts, this historical event might not have been captured, let alone even occurred.”