Heroes: the Marine Corps
"...Marines on the ground, still engaged in combat, raised a spontaneous yell when they saw the flag. Screaming and cheering so loud and prolonged that we could hear it quite clearly on top of Suribachi..."
- Branch of Service: USMC
- Unit: F Company Radioman, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division (Iwo Jima)
- Dates: 1943 - 1946
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1924
- Entered Service: Los Angeles, CA
F Company Radioman, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines,
5th Marine Division (Iwo Jima)
Pacific Campaign: Iwo Jima
United States Marine Corps
Active Service: 1943 - 1946
Inactive Reserves: 1946-1950
On February 22, 2004, we at World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words received a brief message via our e-mail from a Mr. Raymond Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs offered to forward to us a copy of an essay that he had just completed regarding events that occured on February 23, 1945 atop Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima.
The event mentioned in this essay is the historic 1st Flag Raising. Even though this event was overshadowed by the famous 2nd Flag Raising that caught worldwide attention when Mr. Joe Rosenthal caught this moment in time on film, recognition for the original flag raising was slow to come.
To this day, Mr. Raymond Jacobs insists that his presence on the patrol that walked, climbed, and crawled up Mt. Suribachi during the intense first few days of battle for the "black pearl of the Pacific" has yet to be recognized.
We recently received a copy of a document sent to Mr. Jacobs from the firm of Ebert & Associates Inc. who examined the photographic evidence presented by Mr. Jacobs.
The findings are below in the attached letter.
EBERT & ASSOCIATES INC.
3700 RIO GRANDE BLVD. N.W., SUITE 3
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO 87107-3042
Facsimile (505) 344-2444
August 9, 2004
Thank you for trusting me with your photographs, which I have spent some time analyzing. As you know, I am a forensic photogrammetrist and have considerable experience in making and evaluating identifications of individuals depicted in photographs, video, and other sorts of images. In making comparisons of individuals in such images, I use digital image processing to optimize the visibility of facial and other details, to examine them closely, and sometimes also use digital imaging and mapping techniques to make comparative measurements.
When you first sent me copies of the photographs taken by Sgt. Lou Lowery on February 23, 1945 at the first flag raising atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, and other photographs of you taken at various times, I explained to you in some detail my professional "philosophy" regarding the identification of individuals in photographs. Identifications and comparisons of individuals depicted in images are sometimes difficult or impossible for a number of reasons. Many different people look very much the same, and conversely, a single "known" individual can look quite different in photographs taken even a short time apart. Differences in the resolution and the conditions under which photographs were taken often make comparisons difficult too, and in my experience high quality, original negatives or photo prints, especially for older photos, are almost never available.
When I make comparisons of individuals in photographs and other images, I always look first for "unique" identifying patterns, such things as patterns of freckles or moles, distinctive scars, broken or crooked teeth, or other things that would be exceedingly unlikely to occur in two separate individuals. I did not find any such unique patterns in the photographs you sent me. As you suggested to me, the young Ray Jacobs didn't have any such facial "defects," but even if he had they might very well have been undetectable because of the quality and resolution of the photographs, particularly the Lowery photographs you obtained from Leatherneck Magazine, which upon close inspection I have concluded are some sort of photomechanical or at least multi-generational photo copies.
Given images like that, what I would do to illustrate that the radioman on Mt. Suribachi in the Lowery pictures is you would be just what you already did in your "Eyewitness Account" book: to scale and juxtapose comparable photos known to be you next to the Lowery pictures and note the similarities. And the similarities between the "known" Ray Jacobs in the photos you sent me, and the radioman in Lowery's Mt. Suribachi photos, are striking.
Just as important, however, is the lack of dissimilarities, which brings me to the culmination of my professional philosophy regarding identifications of individuals from photographs. First, I do not think any suggestion of a "positive identification" can or should be made based on any single type of physical evidence, be it photographic comparisons, fingerprints, bite marks, or whatever, particularly in any legal case. In cases such as the identification of Ray Jacobs as the radioman on Mt. Suribachi, however, a second line of reasoning is, I think, more germane: whether, given the physical evidence that is available &endash; i.e. the photographs &endash; there is any reason to believe that the radioman is not Ray Jacobs.
And based on the photographic evidence I have seen, there isn't. One way to state my conclusion is that if I were given the photos you sent, and the Lowery photos, and asked to try to illustrate that the radioman was not Ray Jacobs, I could not do so. Another way to state this conclusion is that, based on my experience in the identification of individuals in photographs, and on my examination of the photos you sent that we know are you, when I look at the radioman in the Lowery photographs I am looking at Ray Jacobs.
I also need to comment here in regard to the Lowery photo of the radioman from behind, looking out to sea, and the markings on his canteen cover. Given the data I have, a chemical photo print sent to me by Colonel Dave E. Severance, USMC (Ret), and a digital version of the same image sent by Colonel W. G. Ford, USMC (Ret), the editor of Leatherneck Magazine, I can easily conclude that the radioman is the same individual as that depicted in the other Lowery photos, but I cannot decipher the name on the canteen cover. When one can't unambiguously read printing or writing in a photo, image processing techniques will not "magically" recover details that aren't inherent in the image. In such a case everyone, including me, is reduced to simply guessing. And when I do this, I see what looks to me like seven characters, spelling out something like "Cachall," or "Gachall," or perhaps "Gabrial."
In a number of past forensic cases in which objects or details were just too "fuzzy" in a photograph to allow unambiguous identification, I have used an essentially reverse technique of making an image of an exemplar object and intentionally blurring and otherwise distorting the image of the exemplar to make it comparable to the fuzzy image. If the printing on the radioman's canteen cover were stencilled and the same kind of stencil could be located, such a reverse imaging technique might be used to further contentions of what the printing said. Based on the photographic data I have examined, however, it wouldn't change my opinion that the radioman shown in the Lowery photos taken on Mt. Suribachi is Ray Jacobs.
James I. Ebert, PhD
Certified Photogrammetrist (ASPRS)
Fellow, American Academy of Forensic Sciences
If you would like to read and experience Mr. Jacobs claims to the fact that he was on the first patrol to climb Mt. Suribachi and plant the original flag raised atop Mt. Suribach, you can do so by clicking on the link below...
Iwo Jima: The First Flag Raising
There are many web sites devoted to the United States Marine Corps. Below are some of the more interesting ones that give accounts of the 5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima:
Iwo Jima (Flags of Our Fathers)
Gunny G's Globe and Anchor - Sites & Forums
5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima
World War II - Battle for Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima Flag Raising on Mt. Suribachi
Original story received in the mail on 12 March 2004.
Story added and modified on 16 March 2004.
We, at the World War II Stories - In Their Own Words web site wish to offer to Mr. Raymond Jacobs our most profound THANK YOU for the account of his personal experiences -- during World War II and especially for allowing us to share those memories. We will always be grateful for this fine gentleman's contributions to the war effort and to the countless other men and women who put forth their "finest hour".