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Ira Hayes
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Hero
    (January 12, 1923-January 24, 1955)
    Member of the Pima Nation
    One of five U.S. Marines (and a U.S. Navy Corpsman) to raise the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II (February 23, 1945)
    One of three of the six flag raisers that survived WW II
    Died of alcohol related exposure at age 32
    While training as a paratrooper he was nicknamed Chief Falling Cloud.
    President Franklin Roosevelt made him go on a goodwill U.S. Bond tour after Iwo Jima, something he was uncomfortable doing.
    President Harry Truman called him a hero, but he told a friend: 'How could I feel like a hero when only five men in my platoon of 45 survived, when only 27 men in my company of 250 managed to escape death or injury?'
    After the war he fell prey to alcoholism.
    He was arrested nearly 50 times for public drunkenness.
    He died alone in an abandoned hut after a night of drinking and playing cards.
    He tried to stay out of the limelight after the war, but people would drive to his reservation and ask
    'Are you the Indian who raised the flag on Iwo Jima?'
    After yet another White House ceremony (where President Eisenhower called him a hero) a reporter asked him how he liked the 'pomp & circumstances?' He hung his head and stated: 'I don't.'
    One of the other two surviving Iwo Jima flag raisers attended his funeral.
    He has a mountain named after him, Hayes Peak, in the Sierra Estrella mountain range located southwest of Phoenix, Arizona.
    He has been immortalized in a song, 'The Ballad of Ira Hayes,' sung by both Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.
    He said of his drinking:
    'I was sick. I guess I was about to crack up thinking about all my good buddies. They were better men than me and they're not coming back. Much less back to the White House, like me.'

Credit: Scar Tactics


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