The Flag, The Battle and The Man
At the Ticonderoga Historical Society our mission is to preserve the past for the future. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ending of WWII we have installed new WWII themed exhibits and are preparing for a special day of WWII related programs and events to celebrate this anniversary on the Hancock House lawn – Saturday, August 29th – with our memorial ~ “When the Lights Come on Again,”
As part of our WWII mission plan ~ in preserving the stories of the WWII era from our regional point of interest , ~ we are re-printing a 1957 Ticonderoga Sentinel article that was originally reported by Holly Henry in Florida’s Bradenton Herald.
“Few Manatee Countians, outside of near neighbors and mutual friends, are aware of the fact that a World War II hero and his dark-haired wife are now permanent Bradenton residents.
Like any other newcomers, they take pride in their new home, spend many hours working in their yard. During leisure time they take off for some fishing in their trim craft, tied up paractically at their front door which faces the Braden River in Tropical Shores.
Such a casual way of life is defininitely a decided contrast for Lt. Col. Harold G. Schrier, U.S. Marine Corps, retired, who led a 40 man patrol on Iwo Jima to secure Suriachi and participated in the raising of the first U.S. flag over the volcano.
This is the first flag raising on the top of Mt. Suribachi. The famous flag-raising photo was taken when the second flag was put up later that day. This photo was taken by Leatherneck’s Lou Lowery.
A modest person, Colonial Schrier is not one to elaborate on facts and like most war heros is reluctant to talk about his exploits, especially his part in the seizure of Suribachi which placed him and his men in the spotlight of national fame. His action in the tough fighting Marines encountered on Iwo in taking honeycomb of defensive positions and artillery posts earned him the Navy Cross, second highest award, and the Silver Star. His other decorations are the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart with three clusters.
He admits the flag-raising on Suribachi was terrific “morale booster” for the thousands of Marines on the beachhead below, remembers vividly the cheers of the fighting men, the shrill shrieks of whistles sounding from ships in the harbor.
At the time Schrier, then a lieutenant and executive officer of E Company, 28th Regiment, Fifth Division, was made commanding officer by Col. Chandler Johnson, 2nd Battalion commanding officer to lead his men to the summit of Suribachi.
“If you reach the top,” Johnson told him, “secure and hold it and take this along,” handing Schrier an American flag which the battalion adjutant had brought ashore in his map case from the transport Missoula.
“We left about 8 a.m. and about two hours later raised the flag — opposition was light going up but strong on top,” related Schrier matter of factly
Schrier, Platoon Sgt. Ernest Ivy Thomas, Florida Marine from Tallahassee, Sgt. Henry O. Harrison, Cpl. Chalres W. Lindberg and Pfc James Michaels rigged a halyard and fastened the flag to a piece of Japanese pipe. The flag was hoisted by the Tallahassee sergeant who was described by the officer “as one of the finest Marines I ever knew.” A few weeks later Thomas was killed on his 20th birthday.
The first flag-raising on Suribachi was snapped by a Leatherneck photographer, Sgt. Louis Lowery, four hours before Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press took the most celebrated photo of World War II while the original flag was being replaced by a larger one.
Marines of 3rd Platoon of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, affixes flag to twenty-foot water pole found in crater of Mount Suribachi prior to raising the first flag over Iwo Jima. First Lieutenant Harold George Schrier (October 17, 1916 – June 3, 1971), Platoon Sergeant Ernest Ivy (“Boots”) Thomas, Jr. (March 10, 1924 — March 3, 1945), Henry Oliver (“Hank”) Hansen (December 14, 1919 – March 1, 1945), and Corporal Charles W. Lindberg (June 26, 1920 – June 24, 2007) unfold the 54 x 28 inch flag, obtained from attack transport USS Missoula (APA-211), and raised at 1020 Hours.
Aware the volcano was still crawling with Japanese, Schrier cautioned the men whose picture had just been taken: “we haven’t time to waste around here, let’s get back to work.”
At Iwo the officer was wounded between the eyes and on the hand by shrapnel and five years later was hit by shrapnel in the neck during the combat in Korea. The neck injury caused the officer to be paralyzed three days.
Returning to the states from Iwo Schrier who hails from Corder, MO, and the former Edna Hammond of Ticonderoga, NY, were married in 1945. She served two and half years in the U.S. Women’s Corps and their introduction by mutual friends took place at Camp Elliot, Calif.
Movie poster for “Sands of Iwo Jima
1949 Starring John Wayne
When “Sands of Iwo Jima” was filmed at Camp Pendleton in 1949, Schrier was asked to re-live for the screen the role he played for real during the war. Starred in the movie was John Wayne, noted for horsemanship. The officer recalled during his speaking part that he used for a radio code name, Banner, the moniker of a horse owned by the actor. Other players in the film were John Agar, Forrest Tucker and Adele Mara.
The Marine officer has had plenty of combat. He served with Carlson’s Raiders from the time the group was organized until disbandment. Schrier took part in the raid on Makin, fought at Guadalcanal, Midway, Bougainville, traveled by foot in jungle and via canoe during a reconnaissance mission on New Georgia to obtain valuable sketches and information for future operations. This mission earned him the Legion of Merit. His last combat duty was with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in Korea.
What does the officer think of investigations regarding rigorous military training?
“I honestly believe the public should place trust in trained military leadership – one must remember conditioning of a serviceman is for his own safety during the hazards of combat!”
Many of our World War II veterans have passed away and of those still with us are in their late eighties or into their nineties . Help us show them, your interest in learning about them and their service to our country while also honoring all those that served, with your financial support for this special WWII program. Several sponsorship levels are available. We also, have an “In Memory of” level of $10. per veteran name.
(We thank ~~ Ticonderoga Federal Credit Union, Ticonderoga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, BPOE No 1494, Ti Knights of Columbus and the Town of Ticonderoga for their initial support.)
To ensure that your “Sponsorship” support and “In Memory” donations are available for printing all informational material is needed by 1 August. Payment information: Ticonderoga Historical Society, 6 Moses Circle, Ticonderoga, NY 12883. Our telephone is 518-585-7868
We are interest hearing more WWII veteran stories. If a veteran, or a family member who had someone that served during this time, and are willing to share, we would like to hear from you. Wish to donate period items, we have an interest. Please contact us.
Lt. Col. Harold George Schrier, USMC (1916-1971) Born in Corder, Lafayette County, Missouri. He died at Bradenton, Florida and is buried at Mansion Memorial Park, Ellenton, Manatee County, Florida. He played himself, as captain, in the movie “Sands of Iwo Jima.”
Schrier’s Military Ribbons
Military decorations and awards: Navy Cross, Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon with 5/16 gold star, Presidential Unit Citation with three 3/16 bronze stars, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 3/16 bronze star, World War II Victory Medal, Korean Servic Medal with three 3/16 bronze stars, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citatin, United natins Service Medal and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
Edna Hammond Schrier, USMC (1916-2003) Born in Ticonderoga, NY. She is buried beside her husband. Edna was the daughter of Alice and Amasa Hammond of Chilson.
The Flags: As noted in the interview with Col Schrier, ships in the harbor blew their whistles as they celebrated the raising of the colors. Secretary of Navy, James Forestall, was aboard a ship and with the great excitement that was being felt at the time was reported to say – “That flag ensures the Corps existence for the next 500 years.” He asked to be given the flag as a battle memento. Lt. Col. Johnston got wind of the navy secretary’s flag request and decided to keep the flag for the 5th Marine Division due to its historical significance. At that time the battalion commandeer ordered a second larger flag to be put up. (Credit “War Tales by Don Moore.)
Iwo Jima – Is a small volcanic island about 660 miles south of Tokyo, Japan. It is approximately 2 miles by 4 miles in area. Background: Even before ground operations to secure the Mariana Islands of Guam, Saipan, and Tinian ended, U.S. Naval construction battalions were already clearing land for air bases suitable for the new B-29 “Superfortresses.” These huge bombers had a range capable of reaching the Japanese Home Islands. The first B-29 bombing runs began in October of 1944. But there was a problem – Japanese fighters taking off from tiny Iwo Jima were intercepting B-29s, as well as attacking the Mariana airfields. The U.S. determined that Iwo Jima must be captured. The Battle: U.S. Marines invaded Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, after months of naval and air bombardment. The Japanese defenders of the island were dug into bunkers deep within the volcanic rocks. Approximately 70,000 U.S. Marines and 18,000 Japanese soldiers took part in the battle. In thiry-six days of fighting on the island, nearly 7,000 U.S. Marines were killed. Another 20,000 were wounded. Marines captured 216 Japanese soldiers; the rest were killed in action. The island was finally declared secured on March 16, 1945. It had been one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history. After the battle, Iwo Jima served as an emergency landing site for more that 2,200 B-29 bombers, saving the lives of 24,000 U.S. airmen. Securing Iwo Jima prepared the way for the last and largest battle in the Pacific: the invasion of Okinawa. (Credit the National WWII Museum.)