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Ira Hayes

Ira Hayes
[[File:Ira Hayes.jpg#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
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USMC service photo of Hayes
Birth name Ira Hamilton Hayes
Nickname(s) "Chief Falling Cloud",[1] "Chief"[2]
Born (1923-01-12)January 12, 1923
Sacaton, Arizona, U.S.
Died January 24, 1955(1955-01-24) (aged 32)
Bapchule, Arizona, U.S.[3]
Buried at Section 34, Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance 23px United States of America
Service/branch 23px United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1942–1945
Rank 25px Corporal
Unit 3rd Parachute Battalion
2nd Battalion, 28th Marines
1st Headquarters Battalion, HQMC

World War II

Awards Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat "V"
Combat Action Ribbon

Ira Hamilton Hayes (January 12, 1923 – January 24, 1955) was a Pima Native American and a United States Marine who was one of the six flag raisers immortalized in the iconic photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II.[4][5] Hayes was an enrolled member of the Gila River Pima Indian Reservation (1859 [6]) located in the Pinal and Maricopa counties in Arizona. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on August 26, 1942, and after recruit training, volunteered to become a Paramarine. He fought in the Bougainville and Iwo Jima campaigns in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.

On February 23, 1945, he helped to raise an American flag over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, an event photographed by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press. Hayes and the other five flag-raisers became national heroes as a result. In 1946, he was instrumental in revealing the true identity of one of the other pictured Marines, who was killed in action on Iwo Jima. Hayes was never comfortable with his fame, however, and after his service in the Marine Corps, he descended into alcoholism. He died of exposure to cold and alcohol poisoning after a night of drinking on January 23–24, 1955. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on February 2, 1955.

Hayes was often commemorated in art and film, before and after his death. In 1949, he portrayed himself raising the flag in the motion picture movie, Sands of Iwo Jima. A giant Marine figure of Hayes raising the flag on Iwo Jima with the other five participants is included on the 1954 Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. In 1961, his life story was the subject of the movie The Outsider, starring Tony Curtis as Hayes. The movie inspired songwriter Peter La Farge to write The Ballad of Ira Hayes, which became popular nationwide in 1964 after being recorded by Johnny Cash. In 2006, Hayes was portrayed by Adam Beach in the World War II movie Flags of Our Fathers.

Early life

Hayes was born in Sacaton, Arizona, a town in the Gila River Indian Community in Pinal County, the eldest of six children to Nancy Hamilton (1901–1972) and Joseph Hayes (1887–1978).[7] The Hayes children were: Ira (1923–1955), Harold (1924–1925), Arlene (1926–1929), Leonard (1927–1952), Vernon (1929–1958), and Kenneth (born 1931).[7] Joseph Hayes was a World War I veteran who supported his family by subsistence farming and cotton harvesting.[8] Nancy Hayes was a devout Presbyterian and a Sunday school teacher at the Assemblies of God church in Sacaton.[8]

He was remembered by his family and friends as being a shy and sensitive child. Sara Bernal, his first cousin, stated, "[Joseph Hayes] was a very quiet man; he would go days without saying anything unless you spoke to him first. The other Hayes children would play and tease me, but not Ira. He was quiet, and somewhat distant. Ira didn't speak unless spoken to. He was just like his father."[9] His boyhood friend Dana Norris stated, "Even though I'm from the same culture, I could never get under his skin. Ira had the characteristic of not wanting to talk. But we Pimas are not prone to tooting our own horns. Ira was a quiet guy, such a quiet guy."[9] Despite this, Hayes was a precocious child who displayed an impressive grasp of the English language, a language that many Pimas did not know how to speak.[8] He was also a voracious reader, learning how to read and write by age four.[8]

In 1932, the family settled in Bapchule, Arizona, approximately 12 miles northwest of Sacaton.[8] The Hayes children attended grade school in Sacaton and high school at the Phoenix Indian School in Phoenix, Arizona. Esther Monahan, one of his classmates, stated, "Ira wasn't like the other guys. He was shy and never talked to us girls. He was so much more shy than the other Pima boys. The girls would chase him and try to hug him and kiss him, like we did with all the boys. We'd catch the other boys, who enjoyed it. But not Ira. Ira would just run away."[10] Hayes confided to his classmate Eleanor Pasquale after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, that he was determined on serving in the United States Marine Corps.[10] Pasquale stated, "Every morning in school, [the students] would get a report on World War II. We would sing the anthems of the Army, Marines, and the Navy."[11] Hayes completed two years at the Phoenix Indian School and served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in May and June 1942. He worked as a carpenter before enlisting in the service.[12]

US Marine Corps

World War II

File:Pfc. Ira H. Hayes, a Pima, at age 19, ready to jump, Marine Corps Paratroop School, 1943 - NARA - 519164.tif
November 10, 1942: Pvt. Ira H. Hayes, at age 19, in his service uniform appearing ready to jump, at Camp Gillespie, Marine Corps Parachute School.

Hayes enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on August 26, 1942.[13] He completed recruit training in Platoon 701 at Marine Corps Base, San Diego (renamed in 1948, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego) and in October volunteered for Marine paratrooper (Parmarine) training at the Marine Parachute School at Camp Gillespie located east of San Diego where he received the codename of Chief Falling Cloud. On November 30, he graduated from the Parachute Training School and received his silver "jump wings".[12] On December 1, he received a promotion to Private First Class.[2]

On December 2, 1942, he joined Company B, 3rd Parachute Battalion, Divisional Special Troops, 3rd Marine Division, at Camp Elliott, California. On March 14, 1943, Hayes sailed for New Caledonia with the 3rd Parachute Battalion which was assigned to Camp Kiser there on March 25 until September 26; the unit was redesignated in April as Company K, 3rd Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Parachute Regiment[14] of the I Marine Amphibious Corps. The 3rd battalion was shipped to Guadalcanal and remained there until it was sent to Vella Lavella, arriving there on October 14 for occupational duty. On December 4, he landed with the 3rd battalion on Bougainville and fought against the Japanese as a platoon automatic rifleman (BAR man) with Company K during the Bougainville Campaign.[2] The 3rd Parachute Battalion was shipped back to Guadalcanal and he stayed there until sometime in February when the Paramarines were sent back to California. The 1st Parachute Regiment was officially disbanded at Camp Pendleton, California in February 1944.

Hayes was transferred to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment of the newly activated 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. Hayes sailed to Hawaii with his company in September for continued training with the 5th division as it trained for the invasion and capture of Iwo Jima. During his time on Iwo Jima, Private Frank Halpenny was personally responsible for the safety and well-being of Ira Hayes.

Raising the flag on Iwo Jima

File:Raising the Flag outline.svg
Hayes is pictured to the far left

The 5th Marine Division landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. Hayes's Second Platoon, Easy Company, 2/28 Marines, landed on the southern beach near Mount Suribachi off of the USS Talledega after transferring from the USS Missoula.[2] On February 23, Marines from the 3rd Platoon of Easy Company, 2/28 Marines, captured and raised an American flag on top of Mount Suribachi at about 10:30 a.m. In the early afternoon, Hayes and three other members of his rifle squad in Second Platoon, Easy Company, Sgt. Michael Strank, Cpl. Harlon Block, and Pfc. Franklin Sousley, were ordered to take and lay telephone communication wire up Mount Suribachi. Marine Pfc. Rene Gagnon, a battalion runner for Easy Company, went up the mountain at the same time with a large replacement flag for the one on top. The five Marines together with Navy corpsman John "Doc" Bradley, raised the second American flag attached to a longer and heavier pipe. Bradley from 3rd Platoon, was part of the original 40-man patrol that climbed up Mount Suribachi. On March 14, another American flag was officially raised at Marine headquarters at the base of Mount Suribachi and the flag and flag pipe on top of Mount Suribachi that Hayes helped to raise and plant there was taken down. Hayes fought on the island until it was secure on March 26. Hayes' rifle company had many casualties, he was one of five Marines remaining from his platoon of forty-five men including their corpsmen.[15]

The raising of the second American flag on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 was immortalized by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal and became an icon of the world war. Overnight, Hayes and the other second flag-raisers became national heroes except for Harlon Block who was misidentified for several months as Sgt. Henry Hansen from 3rd Platoon, Easy Company. Hayes attempted to correct the misrepresentation of his friend Block but was silenced by the Marine Corps.

7th war bond selling tour

Hayes and his unit left Iwo Jima on the USS Winged Arrow[2] bound for Hawaii on March 26, 1945. Hayes continued to train at Camp Tarawa again with his unit until April 15, 1945, when he boarded a plane to Washington, D.C. with orders to join C Company, 1st Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. with the two other surviving second flag-raisers. President Franklin Roosevelt paid for the war by selling war bonds and had requested the flag raisers participation before he died on April 12. Pfc. Hayes, Gagnon, and Bradley, were assigned to making public appearances in connection with selling government war bonds for the Seventh War Loan Drive. The bond tour initiated by Roosevelt began on May 10 in New York City after Hayes, Gagnon, and Bradley raised the same flag they had raised on Mount Suribachi at the Nation's capital during a ceremony at the Capitol steps the day before. Hayes was in charge of the flag. In Washington D.C., they first met with President Harry Truman. The bond tour ended on July 4 in Washington, D.C.[16][17] Hayes however, finished his participation in the bond drive on May 24 in Indianapolis, Indiana and returned to Washington, D.C. with orders to rejoin E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines at Camp Tarawa in Hawaii.[2] He arrived at Hilo, Hawaii by plane and rejoined E Company on May 29. On June 19, he was promoted to corporal. He served on occupation duty in Japan with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines from September 22 to October 26, 1945.

He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, California on December 1, 1945. On February 21, 1946, he was awarded a Navy Commendation from the Marine Corps for his service in World War II.

Post World War II

File:Hayes in LA.jpg
Ira Hayes (left) with Los Angeles mayor Fletcher Bowron (1947)

Hayes attempted to lead a normal civilian life after the war. "I kept getting hundreds of letters. And people would drive through the reservation, walk up to me and ask, "Are you the Indian who raised the flag on Iwo Jima?"[18] Although Hayes rarely spoke about the flag raising, he spoke about his service in the Marine Corps with great pride.

Hayes seemed to be disturbed that his rifle squad buddy Harlon Block was still being misrepresented publically as Sgt. Hank Hansen in Rosenthal's second flag raising photo. Flag-raisers Strank and Block, both from his rifle squad, were killed in action days after the second flag raising. Hansen also was on Mt. Suribachi and had actually participated in the first flag raising, and he too was killed in action the same day as the other two were except in a different location.

One day in 1946, Hayes decided to walk and hitchhike 1,300 miles from the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona to Edward Frederick Block, Sr.'s farm in Weslaco, Texas in order to reveal the truth to Block's family about their son Harlon being in the photo. Hayes was instrumental in having the mistaken second flag-raiser controversy resolved by the Marine Corps in January 1947. Block's family was sincerely grateful to Hayes, especially Harlon's mother who said she knew, from the time she first saw the photo, that it was Harlon in the photo.

In 1949, Hayes appeared briefly as himself in the motion picture film, Sands of Iwo Jima starring John Wayne. In the movie, Wayne handed the American flag to Gagnon, Hayes, and Bradley who are the actual three surviving second flag-raisers (The second flag that was raised on Mount Suribachi is used in the film and is handed directly to Gagnon).

Hayes was unable to hold on to a steady job for a long period and was arrested 52 times for alcohol intoxication in public at various places in the country including Chicago in October 1953.[19] Referring to his alcoholism, he once said: "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."[18] However, he managed to make it sober to the Marine Corps War Memorial dedication on November 10, 1954 where he was lauded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a hero. A reporter there at the time approached Hayes and asked him, "How do you like the pomp and circumstance?" Hayes hung his head and said, "I don't."[20] His disquiet about his unwanted fame and his subsequent post-war problems were first recounted in detail by the author William Bradford Huie in The Outsider, published in 1959 as part of his collection Wolf Whistle and Other Stories. The Outsider was filmed in 1961, directed by World War II veteran turned film director Delbert Mann and starring Tony Curtis as Hayes.[21] The 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers, directed by Clint Eastwood, suggests that Hayes suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder.


File:Ira Hayes Tombstone.jpg
Ira Hayes' white marble government headstone in Arlington, Virginia.

On the morning of January 24, 1955, Hayes was found dead lying near an abandoned adobe hut near where he lived in Sacaton, Arizona. He had been drinking and playing cards on the reservation with his friends and brothers Vernon and Kenneth. An altercation ensued between Hayes and a Pima Indian named Henry Setoyant, and all left except Hayes and Setoyant. The Pinal County coroner concluded that Hayes' death was caused by exposure and alcohol poisoning. However, his brother Kenneth, a Korean War veteran, believes that the death resulted from the altercation with Setoyant. The reservation police did not conduct an investigation into Hayes' death and Setoyant denied any allegations of fighting with Hayes.[22] There was no autopsy.

In the film, The Outsider, his death is dramatized for the screen. He is shown drunk and freezing on a mountain top and unable to climb down. He falls asleep and is shown frozen to death with his arm and hand reaching upwards, like the time he raised the flag and flagstaff on Mount Suribachi. In the song, "The Ballad of Ira Hayes", his death is described as dying an indigent death of being drunk and drowning in 2 inches of water in a ditch.

On February 2, 1955, Hayes was buried in Section 34, Grave 479A at Arlington National Cemetery. At the funeral, fellow flag-raiser Rene Gagnon said of him: "Let's say he had a little dream in his heart that someday the Indian would be like the white man — be able to walk all over the United States."[23]

1993 Marine Corps commemoration

On November 10, 1993, the United States Marine Corps held a ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial) commemorating the 218th anniversary of the Marine Corps. Of Ira Hayes, USMC Commandant General Carl Mundy said:

One of the pairs of hands that you see outstretched to raise our National flag on the battle-scarred crest of Mount Suribachi so many years ago, are those of a Native American ... Ira Hayes ... a Marine not of the ethnic majority of our population.

Were Ira Hayes here today ... I would tell him that although my words on another occasion have given the impression that I believe some Marines ... because of their color ... are not as capable as other Marines ... that those were not the thoughts of my mind ... and that they are not the thoughts of my heart.

I would tell Ira Hayes that our Corps is what we are because we are of the people of America ... the people of the broad, strong, ethnic fabric that is our nation. And last, I would tell him that in the future, that fabric will broaden and strengthen in every category to make our Corps even stronger ... even of greater utility to our nation. That's a commitment of this commandant ... And that's a personal commitment of this Marine.

Military awards

Hayes' Navy Commendation Ribbon was updated to the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat "V".[24] He is also entitled to the Combat Action Ribbon. [25] The star on his Presidential Unit Citation is a WWII "battle star" for Iwo Jima and does not denote a 2nd Presidential Unit Citation award. Hayes did not meet the 4-year Marine Corps service requirement in WWII for the Good Conduct Medal.

Hayes' received the following military decorations and awards:

Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat "V"
(Navy Commendation Ribbon)
106px Combat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation with One 516 Silver Star
(Iwo Jima, battle star)
106px American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four 316 Bronze Stars
(4 campaigns)
106px World War II Victory Medal
106px Navy Occupation Service Medal
106px Parachutist Badge
106px Rifle Sharpshooter Badge

US Marine Corps Commendation


The Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, takes pleasure in COMMENDING, CORPORAL IRA H. HAYES, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, for service as set forth in the following


For meritorious and efficient performance of duty while serving with a Marine infantry battalion during operations against the enemy on VELLA LAVELLA AND BOUGAINVILLE, BRITISH SOLOMON ISLANDS, from 15 August to 15 December 1943, and on IWO JIMA, VOLCANO ISLANDS, from 19 February to 27 March 1945. Although often under heavy enemy fire, Corporal HAYES carried out his duties during all these campaigns in a highly commendable manner. Regardless of danger of personal fatigue he worked tirelessly, and his efforts greatly aided his unit in accomplishing its assigned missions. His courage, initiative, and loyal devotion to duty continually set an example for all who served with him, and his conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

/S/ Roy S. Geiger,
Lt. General, U.S. Marine Corps

Commendation Ribbon Authorized[2]

Portrayal in music, film and literature

Monuments, memorials, and namings

Ira Hayes' personal honors include:

  • Marine Corps War Memorial (Marine flag raising figure), Arlington, Virginia.
  • Hayes Peak, the northernmost mountain in the Sierra Estrella, Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Ira H. Hayes High School, Bapchule, Arizona [3]
  • Ira Hayes Park (statue), Sacaton, Arizona.
  • Marine Corps League, Ira Hayes Detachment 2, Phoenix, Arizona.
  • American Legion, Ira Hayes Post 84, Sacaton, Arizona.

See also

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  1. ^ Chief Falling Cloud
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Ira Hayes, Pima Marine, by Albert Hemingway, 1988, ISBN 0819171700.
  3. ^ Ira Hayes - Find A Grave.
  4. ^ Ó'Riain, Seán (2006-09-01). "An Irishman's Diary". The Irish Times. 
  5. ^ "Corporal Ira Hamilton Hayes, USMCR". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2006-09-01. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b Bradley & Powers 2006, p. 38
  8. ^ a b c d e Bradley & Powers 2006, p. 39
  9. ^ a b Bradley & Powers 2006, pp. 39–41
  10. ^ a b Bradley & Powers 2006, p. 41
  11. ^ Bradley & Powers 2006, pp. 41–42
  12. ^ a b California Indian Education: Ira Hayes: O'odham USMC Airborne Warrior
  13. ^ Bradley & Powers 2006, p. 42
  14. ^ The U.S. Airbone, Attached Units — The U.S. Airborne during World War II, 1st Marine Parachute Regiment [2]
  15. ^ American Indian Heritage Month: Iwo Jima Flag Raiser
  16. ^ The Mighty Seventh War Loan:
  17. ^ Video: Funeral Pyres of Nazidom, 1945/05/10 (1945). Universal Newsreels. May 10, 1945. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Viola, Herman J.; Campbell, Ben Nighthorse (November 18, 2008). "Fighting the Metal Hats: World War II". Warriors in Uniform: The Legacy of American Indian Heroism. National Geographic. pp. 93–94. ISBN 978-1-4262-0361-9. 
  19. ^ "Then There Were Two". Time. February 7, 1955. 
  20. ^ Jeffers, Harry Paul (April 1, 2003). "Ira Hayes". The 100 Greatest Heroes. Citadel Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-8065-2476-4. 
  21. ^ a b The Outsider at the Internet Movie Database
  22. ^ Bradley & Powers 2006, p. 503
  23. ^ Chavers, Dean (2007). Modern American Indian Leaders: Their Lives and Their Work 1. Edwin Mellen Press. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-7734-5555-9. 
  24. ^ The Combat Distinguishing Device denotes he was "exposed to personal hazard during direct participation in combat" SECNAVINST 1650.1H.
  25. ^ Combat Action Ribbon is a personal award retroactive from December 7, 1941: Public Law 106-65--October 5, 1999, 113 STAT 588, Sec 564
  26. ^ Cash, Johnny (1977). Cash: The Autobiography. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-072753-6. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 

External links

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