An American hero remembered

Karen (Lindberg) Davidson holds a few photos commemorating her father’s, Charles W. Lindberg’s, service time at Iwo Jima. Davidson was really proud of her father’s service, adding how the military and freedom meant much to him. “He just didn’t take it (freedom) for granted. He knew that men died in order for it to happen and stay this way,” Davidson said. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

This photo, taken by photographer Lou Lowery, depicts the Marines who first raised the flag at Iwo Jima at 10:30 am on February 23, 1945. This first flag raising was not the one captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal and memorialized in statue form at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. Charles W. Lindberg is the man standing right behind the man pointing the gun.

Roseau resident Karen (Lindberg) Davidson remembers how her father Charles loved watching westerns. In the middle of watching these westerns, he would allow Karen to put rollers in his hair, or bandage up his arms and play “hospital,” never losing his patience. This memory brought some laughter from Davidson.

“He was awesome. He was a great dad,” Davidson said.

This scene and mentality contrasted the one Charles W. Lindberg experienced and showed years earlier and thousands of miles from the U.S. as a Marine during World War II on the Japanese volcano island of Iwo Jima.

At the age of 24, Lindberg carried a flamethrower, weighing at times 72 pounds, from February 19 to March 1, 1945 on Iwo Jima. He did this as a member of the “first combat patrol” to scale the steep slopes of Iwo Jima to its highest point– Mount Suribachi. Exposing himself to grenades and machine gun fire, he neutralized enemy pillboxes at the base of Mount Suribachi.

During this time at Iwo Jima, he would participate in an historic occasion– raising the first U.S. flag atop Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi at 10:30 am on February 23, 1945.

This first flag raising was not the one captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal and memorialized in statue form at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. That was the second flag raising.

This first flag raising, captured by photographer Lou Lowery, may not be the one people remember and recognize today, but Lindberg took much pride in it and remained connected with the five men he shared this moment with.

He didn’t share much about the specifics of his time at Iwo Jima when there wasn’t a reason to do so, Davidson explained, but when he did talk about it, one memory stood out the most.

“After the flag went up, when the ships started, the horns all went out in the bay and people were cheering,” Davidson said. “It still gave him the chills, even after all that time. And he’d talk about it and he would actually get choked up.”

After this momentous occasion, Lindberg continued to battle on. While participating in an attack on a hostile cave position on March 1, Lindberg exposed himself to enemy fire and as a result was shot. A medic, John Bradley came out from cover and pulled Lindberg back to protect him from further harm.

“(He) got dad off the ground and dad was telling him, ‘No. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.’ He still went out and got him and dad had the greatest respect for him,” Davidson said.

The two men remained life-long friends. Bradley earned the Navy Cross, but Davidson said her father believed Bradley should have earned more for his bravery at Iwo Jima.

While aboard a ship recovering from his gunshot wound, Lindberg saw a photograph of the second flag raising in a newspaper and this didn’t sit well with him, a man of truth and honor.

“He knew that the picture was not their flag raising,” Davidson said. “He tried to express the fact that that’s not us and that’s not the flag raising and people just didn’t believe him. And that I think was really hard.”

Early on, he was told he was a liar, Davidson explained, and that it didn’t really happen.

“For him, the truth was in the facts and real history. How things happened really mattered to him,” Davidson said. “He didn’t like things to be believed that really weren’t the truth I suppose. And he was never someone who would lie. He was a very honorable guy.”

To see the complete story, read the February 27 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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