Alan Wood: Naval officer at Iwo Jima


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The Independent Online

Alan Wood, who died on 18 April at the age of 90, was a Second World War veteran who was credited with providing the flag in the famous flag-raising on Iwo Jima. Others have claimed they provided the flag, but retired Marine Colonel Dave Severance, who commanded the company that took Mount Suribachi that day, confirmed recently that it was Wood. "I have a file of more than 60 people who claim to have had something to do with the flags," he said.

Wood was a 22-year-old Navy officer in charge of communications on a landing ship on Iwo Jima's shores on 23 February 1945 when a Marine asked him for the biggest flag that he could find. After five days of fighting to capture the Japanese-held island, US forces had managed to scale Mount Suribachi to hoist an American flag.

Wood happened to have a 37-square-foot flag he had found months before in a Pearl Harbour Navy depot. Five Marines and a Navy Corpsman raised the flag in a moment captured by the AP photographer Joe Rosenthal.

Steven Wood said his father was always humbled by his small role in the historic moment. In a 1945 letter to a Marine general who asked for details about the flag, Wood wrote: "The fact that there were men among us who were able to face a situation like Iwo where human life is so cheap, is something to make humble those of us who were so very fortunate not to be called upon to endure such hell."

Wood went on to work as technical artist and spokesman at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.