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First Name: Ira

Last Name: Hayes

Birthplace: Sacaton, AZ, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Hamilton

Date of Birth: 12 January 1923

Date of Death: 24 January 1955

Rank: Corporal

Years Served:
Ira Hamilton Hayes

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Ira Hamilton Hayes
Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps

Ira Hamilton Hayes was born on 12 January 1923 on the Gila River Reservation in Sacaton, AZ. A

Pima Indian, he was the oldest of eight children. In August of 1942, at the age of 19, he quit school and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

On 19 February 1945, a large contingent of Marines landed on the island of Iwo Jima facing a substantial army of Japanese defenders who were well dug-in and camouflaged. Four of World War II's bloodiest, fiercest days of combat ensued, during which the Marines took more casualties than they had in several months at Guadalcanal.

On 23 February 1945, forty Marines climbed Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the Island, in order to raise the American Flag. A first flag was put up, which was cheered wildly by all American personnel who saw it. A larger flag was then ordered to be erected, to replace the first, smaller one. Ira Hayes, Corporal Harlon Block of Texas, Sergeant Michael Strank of Pennsylvania, Private Franklin Sousley of Kentucky, Private Rene Gagnon of New Hampshire, and Navy Corpsman John Bradley of Wisconsin, then raised a much larger flag to little notice or fanfare.

However, Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer, took several shots of the event, one of them becoming the world-famous photograph of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima (he later received the Pulitzer Prize). Strank, Harlon, and Sousley died in combat on the island.

The three survivors were chosen by the Marine Corps to be visible, tangible heroes to present to the American public. John Bradley and Ira Hayes learned to resent the public displays, with Ira encountering much prejudice and racism. After the war, he returned to the reservation, more introverted and enigmatic than he he'd been prior to the war. He worked at menial jobs and was arrested numerous times for drunkenness.

On a cold morning in January 1955, the 32-year old Hayes was found dead in a ditch a short distance from his home. The coroner found his death to be an accident contributed to by alcohol.


Hayes was portrayed by actor Tony Curtis in the 1961 movie, "The Outsider" and by Adam Beach in the 2006 movie "Flags of Our Fathers." 

Death and Burial

Corporal Ira Hamilton Hayes died on 24 January 1955 in Bapchule, AZ. In death, Ira was afforded the respect and accolades he rarely found in life, as his body was made to lie in State in the Arizona Capitol Building. He received the largest State funeral in Arizona history, and his body was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 2618   Created by: MHOH




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