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First Name: Harlon

Last Name: Block

Birthplace: Yorktown, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Henry

Date of Birth: 06 November 1924

Date of Death: 01 March 1945

Rank: Corporal

Years Served:
Harlon Henry Block

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Harlon Henry Block
Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps

Harlon Henry Block was born on 6 November 1924 in Yorktown, TX, the second son of six children of Ed and Ada Belle Brantley Block, a farming family in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, near where the Rio Grande River emptied into the Gulf of Mexico. He was raised in his mother's faith as a Seventh Day Adventist, with their belief "Thou Shall Not Kill" making many of them conscientious objectors. A natural athlete, he played on the football team until his graduation from Weslaco High School in June 1942. Immediately following graduation, Harlon and 12 other WHS football players all enlisted together into the Marine Corps.

Military Service

Following basic training in San Diego, Harlon volunteered for the Parachute Regiment and became parachute qualified in May 1943. Shortly afterwards, he fought at Bougainville with the 3rd Marine Division. Following Bougainville and a 30-day leave, he was reassigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, in the newly forming 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, CA, and slated for the upcoming invasion of Iwo Jima.

In his squad were SGT Strank, PFC Hayes and PFC Sousley. The invasion of 70,000 marines landed on 19 February 1945, on the south side of the island, with Strank landing at Green Beach, closest to Mount Suribachi. On the fourth day of the invasion, the Marines captured Mount Suribachi and raised the American flag. Following the death of Sergeant Mike Strank on 1 March, Harlon took over the squad and continued the battle on the western end of the island. Harlon was killed in action later that same day by another enemy mortar shell.

Iwo Jima Flag Raiser

Corporal Block was one of six men who were immortalized in Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's photo of the U.S. Flag raising on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, just after noon on 23 February 1945, for which Rosenthal was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

The six men were Corporal Harlon Block, Private Rene Gagnon, Private First Class Ira Hayes, Private First Class Franklin Sousley, Sergeant Mike Strank, and U.S. Navy Corpsman John Bradley. Initially, Corporal Block was mistakenly identified as SGT Henry Hansen, who was also on the mountaintop, but two years after the photo was taken, Block's participation in the second photo was confirmed; although Hansen is still occasionally listed as a participant.

Author James Bradley described Block's life story in the bestseller, "Flags of Our Fathers" (2000). The flag in the famous photo is the second U.S. flag raised over Mount Suribachi; the first flag was raised there at 10:20 AM by Sergeant Henry Hansen, Platoon Sergeant Eugene Thomas, Corpsman John Bradley, Private Philip Ward, Private James Michels and Corporal Chuck Lindberg, and photographed by Sergeant Lou Lowery. Corpsman John Bradley is the only one in both flag-raising photos.

Death and Burial

Corporal Harlon Henry Block was killed in action on 1 March 1945 in Iwo Jima, Japan. He is buried at the base of the flag-raising sculpture at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, TX.

Honoree ID: 2264   Created by: MHOH




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