Every June she comes to Ripon College to speak to Badger Boys, state Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley tells the tale of her father-in-law raising the flag at Iwo Jima.
She notes that the Appleton native was one of six Marines pictured in the iconic photo taken in February 1945 at the top of Mount Suribachi.
She told her story again at last week’s Badger Boys State inauguration.
Only this year, it had a twist.
Walsh Bradley acknowledged that some are now questioning whether husband Mark’s father actually is among those in AP photographer Joe Rosenthal’s photo.
Among the doubters is another of John Bradley’s sons, James,
who wrote about the flag raising in the bestselling book and later, Clint Eastwood movie, “Flags of Our Fathers.”
James claims that discrepancies in what his father was wearing in comparing pictures of the two flag raisings – the original and an hour later, a second one with a larger flag – suggests John Bradley was not in the latter, famous image.
Earlier this spring, the U.S. Marine Corps opened an investigation to determine who is pictured in the iconic flag-raising photo from Iwo Jima.
“It now appears unclear whether he was part of the first or second flag raising that day,” Justice Bradley told the 880 Badger Boys gathered in Storzer gymnasium. “Yes, you heard me right.
“For those of you who don’t know, there were two flag raisings that day, several hours apart. The first one was the significant one as it reflected the coming victory.
“The Marines were going to take the island, so when old glory was planted atop Mount Serabachi you could hear the shouting; it was an emotional moment, there were whistles and gunfire and celebrations from Marines for miles around.”
Speculation is that Justice Bradley’s father-in-law was in that contingent.
“Several hours later a commandant sent six men up the summit to replace the original flag with a larger flag,” she said. “He wanted to make sure everyone could see it.”
It’s that flag raising that appeared on the front page of so many American newspapers, Bradley said.
“So the Marines are now trying to figure out who was on the first and second flag raisings,” she said, noting that, for now anyway, she still chooses to accept what the Marines had believed, that her father-in-law was in Rosenthal’s image.
“Until further notice, they’re sticking with their story and so am I,” Justice Bradley said.
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