Some similar thoughts:
It appears that it was Harold Schultz in the second flag-raising, not John Bradley. But that does not take away from the courage and heroism that they—and thousands of other Marines and sailors—displayed on that island.
And it’s easy to see how the confusion arose. Two flag raisings on Suribachi that morning; a firefight in between. Three of the flag raisers killed in combat before the search for them began in earnest. Many of the same individuals around the summit for both flag-raisings and the “gung ho” photo that was also snapped by Joe Rosenthal.
Then, the Marines had to rely on the youngest (and least experienced) of the group, Rene Gagnon, to identify the rest. Gagnon, who was a runner for most of the battle and only fired his rifle once, made one mistake initially when he put Hank Hansen in the photo in the place of Harlan Block. And he identified Ira Hayes only with the greatest reluctance; Hayes was already consumed by the demons of battle and alcohol and wanted no part of any fanfare. John Bradley was a reluctant participant as well, and left the war bond tour as soon as the brass allowed. Remember: he is the same man who received the Navy Cross on Iwo and never told anyone—his family found the medal in a shoe box after his death.
Harold Schultz had been through the same hell as thousands of other men and did his best to put it behind him. He knew what transpired at the top of Suribachi that day and that was (apparently) enough for him. It’s another testament to a generation that focused on doing their duty and sought no publicity or fame for their actions. It’s a lesson worth remembering and emulating today.
Nimitz (I believe) said it best: Iwo was the place where uncommon value was a common virtue.