Ron Elliott's Books
Over the years, there has been much discussion as to whether the flag raisers were heroes. I asked each of the many Marines I interviewed (there's no such thing as a "former Marine") that question. The Iwo Jima survivors said that if there were any heroes on Iwo, they died there. Latter day Marines said that any man who set foot on that God-forsaken island is a hero. Under either definition, Franklin Sousley is a hero.
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The image of the Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima may very well be the most famous photograph of all time. While Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's iconic picture -- captured in the final days of World War II --fuses the men into a single historic unit, they were six individuals and each was an American woman's precious baby boy.
From an overall historic viewpoint, given that what we see in the photograph is American teamwork, courage and victory, the individual identities may not matter; nonetheless each of the six men has a unique background and a distinct path to the summit of Mt. Suribachi.
Through exhaustive research into sources public and private I detailed the heart-warming and heart-wrenching drama that is the life and legacy of flag-raiser Franklin Runion Sousley. Sousley's story is related with all the tragedy, humor and excitement that compose the remarkable life of one chosen by fate to be representative of the thousands of Americans who sacrificed so much to preserve our way of life.