The Marine Corps said Wednesday that for 74 years it had misidentified one of the six men in the iconic World War II flag-raising photo at Iwo Jima, correcting the record after digging by historians revealed the mistake.
NBC News first reported the change.
The historians’ research, backed up by a special Marine Corps investigative board with help from the FBI’s Digital Evidence Laboratory, concluded that Cpl. Harold “Pie” Keller was one of the six men in the photo, not Pfc. Rene Gagnon, as previously thought.
Keller passed away in 1979.
His recognition marks the second change in recent years to the cast of the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning picture, one of most recognizable images in U.S. history.
Three years ago, the Marine Corps determined that Pfc. Harold Schultz, not Navy hospital corpsman John Bradley, was one of the six men in the photo.
“Without the initiative and contributions of both private historians devoted to preservation of our history and the FBI’s Digital Evidence Laboratory, 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 to NBC News.
“Regardless of who was in the photograph, each and every Marine who set foot on Iwo Jima, or supported the effort from the sea and air around the island is, and always will be, a part of our Corps’ cherished history,” the statement continued. “In the words of General David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, ‘they are all heroes.’”
Stephen Foley, Dustin Spence and Brent Westemeyer are the three researchers whose work led to the change.
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