The father of the author and one of the flag raisers, "Doc" Bradley worked as an undertaker after returning from the Marines. He enlisted in the Navy but was transferred to the Marines to work as a corpsman. After the war, he returned to Wisconsin where he was raised and rarely spoke of his experiences. He was raised Catholic by his parents, Kathryn and James J. Bradley. He died after having a stroke in 1994.
General Charles Krulak
The Commandant of the Marine Corps who takes James Bradley and his family to Iwo Jima to visit the site of the flag raising.
Betty Van Gorp / Betty Bradley
The wife of Jack "Doc" Bradley and the mother of the author, James Bradley. She was Jack's childhood sweetheart and married him when he returned from the war.
One of the flag raisers who survived the battle at Iwo Jima and went on to participate in the Bond Tour. He was strikingly handsome, with a "lean Gallic face and dark hair and brows," and grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was often bossed around by his mother and later by his wife, Pauline.
One of the flag raisers who died on Iwo Jima, his figure in the famous photograph was misidentified for almost two years. He grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and was raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist. However, he went to Weslaco High School rather than his church school and became a star football player. He was a "contributor, but not a leader or initiator" on the football team and in his family life, where he was the middle child.
One of the flag raisers who was killed at Iwo Jima, originally from a farm in Hilltop, Kentucky. He is remembered for his good humor, for being a good student and a lot of fun. He dies on Iwo Jima when he wanders into an empty street and is shot down.
One of the flag raisers who died on Iwo Jima, a sergeant and natural leader, described by those who served with him as "a Marine's Marine." He was born in Czechoslovakia and grew up in the Slavic enclave of Franklin Borough, Pennsylvania. He, like his mother, was a devout Catholic. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps before enlisting as a Marine in 1939, before America entered World War II.
One of the flag raisers who survived Iwo Jima but succumbed to alcohol addiction after returning home from the war. He was a Pima Indian, thoughtful and peaceful by nature.
James J. Bradley
Jack "Doc" Bradley's father, a veteran of World War I and a railroad worker. He was an Irish American with the nickname "Cabbage." He encouraged his son to enlist in the Navy to try to avoid battle before being drafted.
The mother of Jack "Doc" Bradley, a devout Catholic, described as "anxious and worrying."
Goldie Mitchell / Goldie Sousley
The mother of Franklin Sousley, she bonded with her son after the death of her husband and older son.
Franklin Sousley's girlfriend before he enlisted in the Marines. He went on a date with her before being shipped off to Iwo Jima and told her that he would return as a hero.
The mother of Harlon Block, who successfully identified him in the photo of the flag raisers even though his face was not showing. A nurse, she preferred the city to the country and felt that she was making a huge sacrifice by living in the country with her husband, Ed, and their children. She was a "fine-featured and dark-haired" devout Seventh-Day Adventist.
The father of Harlon Block, a veteran of World War I. He moved the family out to the Rio Grande Valley so he could be a farmer, much to the disapproval of his wife, Belle. He and Harlon worked together hauling crude oil to get through the Depression, and became close friends.
The mother of Ira Hayes, a devout Presbyterian and Pima Indian. She made sure that Ira and his siblings were educated at the Phoenix Indian School to become literate.
The father of Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian who rarely spoke.
The mother of Rene Gagnon, who left her husband, Henry, after discovering that he had a secret other family. She was a mill worker and often brought Rene to work with her.
The controlling, spotlight-seeking wife of Rene Gagnon.
The father of Mike Strank, a Czech immigrant to Pennsylvania and a mineworker. He trained his three sons to work as a team, deeply influencing the mindset that would make Mike a great Marine.
The mother of Mike Strank, who imbued within him a strong Catholic faith.
"Howlin' Mad" Smith
Holland M. Smith, nicknamed "Howlin' Mad," developed the Marines into a strong, important branch of the military with a focus on amphibious attacks during the decade leading up to America's involvement in World War II. He was "pugnacious, profane, and professorial." President Roosevelt assigned him to be commander of the Marines as they sailed to Iwo Jima at the age of sixty-two, suffering from serious diabetes.
A dark-haired boy with a bad right eye who enlisted in the Marines by bluffing at the eye exam. He became a Browning Automatic Rifle man and a good friend of the flag raisers. He is evacuated from Iwo Jima on March 18 when he has both his feet shot off.
A friend of Jack "Doc" Bradley who hitchhiked from Appleton to Oshkosh to enlist with the Navy. They were both assigned to the training center in Farragut, Idaho.
Harlon Block's girlfriend, whom he visited when he returned to east Texas on furlough. He revealed to her that he didn't think he would survive his next battle.
Colonel Harry "the Horse" Liversedge
The "semimythic warrior" who commanded the 28th Regiment, to which Easy Company was attached. Originally from Volcano, California, he became an Olympic shot-putter.
Captain Dave Severence
The leader of Easy Company, nicknamed "Spearhead," to which the six flag raisers belonged. He was "a tall, lean Wisconsin native; a ramrod Marine of exceptional judgment who had shown his mettle in battle, who expressed his authority through calm understatement and unflinching example."
Lieutenant Keith Wells
The platoon commander of the 3rd Platoon in Easy Company, to which Jack "Doc" Bradley was assigned. He suffers shrapnel wounds to the legs on the second day of fighting but refuses to be evacuated.
Ralph "Iggy" Ignatowski
Jack "Doc" Bradley's buddy in combat, only seventeen during training at Pendleton and eighteen years old when he died. He was "a sunny jokester, a warmhearted family boy" with "an intelligent, open adolesent face, clear-eyed and confident." He went missing during the battle at Iwo Jima, and Doc discovered his body, tortured almost beyond recognition by the Japanese, in a cave.
Ed Block, Jr.
Harlon Block's brother, who is in flight school training to become a weather pilot when Harlon is sent to Iwo Jima. Harlon visits him in Dos Palos, California, and tells him that he is certain he won't come home alive.
Harlon Block's older sister, the last family member to see him alive. He tells her that he won't be returning alive, and she believes him.
Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi
The commander of the defense at Iwo Jima, handpicked by Emperor Hirohito. He spoke English and knew America well, and was "tall for a Japanese, five feet nine inches, husky, and with a small potbelly."
An eccentric boy from Montana, and one of the most courageous soldiers of the 3rd Platoon, who came face to face with Japanese soldiers, charging them and killing them in person-to-person combat. He risks his own life to dash and drag a wounded soldier from safety. Later in the day, he crawls inside an enemy tunnel to procure woolen blankets for his injured buddies. He receives a posthumous Medal of Honor after sacrificing his own life by throwing himself on a grenade to save another soldier.
Lieutenant Ed Pennel
The leader of the 2nd Platoon in the 28th Regiment, injured when a shell explodes between his legs, and he lies in the middle of the battle waiting for help until nightfall before he is evacuated to an offshore hospital ship.
Ernest Boots Thomas
The Platoon Sergeant who takes command of the 3rd Platoon after Lieutenant Keith Wells needs to be evacuated. A twenty-year-old boy from Florida, he spots the weak point in the Japanese defense line of Mount Suribachi, and leads the charge forward to surround the mountain. He is killed as he answers a phone call on March 3.
Colonel Chandler Johnson
Directs the charge up Mount Suribachi, and requests the original flag that was raised to keep for himself so it doesn't get into the hands of Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal. He wears his visor flipped up and has a fiery temperament. He is killed on March 3rd along with four other officers of the 28th Division.
Sergeant Lou Lowery
Documents the original flag raising on camera, and encounters Joe Rosenthal on his way down from the crater at the top of Mount Suribachi.
Lieutenant Ted Tuttle
Colonel Chandler Johnson's assistant operations officer who is directed to find a bigger replacement flag for the original.
A "short, nearsighted, mustachioed wire-service photographer" for the Associated Press who, by chance, captures the raising of the replacement flag in the photograph that will become so famous.
Mrs. Madeline Evelley
The mother of Hank Hansen, who was misidentified as one of the Marines in the photo of the flag raising. She is from Somerville, Massachusetts.
The Marine correspondent who accompanies the three surviving flag raisers on the Seventh Bond Tour. An alcoholic, he encourages Ira Hayes's destructive behavior on the tour.
Rene Gagnon, Jr.
The only son of Rene Gagnon and Pauline Harnois, he and the author, James Bradley, form an immediate connection.
Flags of Our Fathers Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Flags of Our Fathers is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Bradley wrote Flags of Our Fathers for his father and the other five men who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima.... to tell their stories. He wanted people to know these men, who were often depicted but never known, to explain the men they were...