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Rene Gagnon
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Military Personnel
    (March 7, 1925-October 12, 1979)
    Born in Manchester, New Hampshire
    US Marine
    Participant in the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima (February 23, 1945)
    One of three flag raisers to survive the battle
    Appeared as himself in the film 'The Sands of Iwo Jima' (1949)
    He dropped out of high school.
    He grew a pencil-thin mustache that was mocked by fellow Marines for making him look like 'a little boy trying to disguise himself as a man.'
    He was not originally meant to be one of the flag raisers, but joined in when the water pipe used as a makeshift flagpole was too unwieldly for the original group of four Marines.
    He initially refused to identify Ira Hayes (who wanted to stay out of the limelight) as a flag raiser until he was taken to Marine Corps headquarters and told the request for the information had come from the President.
    After the war, he worked mostly at menial jobs, and was fired from many of them for his heavy drinking.
    He disliked attending events commemorating the flag raising, but participated at his wife's insistance.
    As a runner for his battalion, he carried the flag up Mount Suribachi.
    He carried a picture of his hometown girlfriend inside his helmet for protection, and married her while on a post-Iwo Jima War Bond tour.
    He was fired from one job on Memorial Day (1978).
    Like the other two surviving flag bearers, he said he never considered himself a hero.
    He said, 'Don't glorify war. There's nothing glorious about it.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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