Sat. 7:40 pm: Girard man will attend reunion of Marines who fought at Iwo Jima

GIRARD – It was a case of mistaken identity that took more than 70 years to correct, but for Marine Corps veteran Ralph Griffiths, the individual soldiers pictured in the iconic Iwo Jima flag-raising photo were less important than what the image symbolized.

“It was a victory for us during World War II, but it had a high cost,” he said.

Griffiths, 90, said he and the other Marines in his unit trained at Camp Tarawa, Hawaii, for the invasion of a Japanese-owned island, but they were not told which one.

“We found out it was Iwo Jima. It was terrifying to think about. Everyone was scared,” he said. “We were given orders to take Mount Suribachi.”

It took them four days to take control of the mountain and his unit – Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment, 5th Division – suffered heavy losses. It was after they took control of Mount Suribachi that members of Griffiths’ unit were photographed raising the flag.

Read more about this World War II veteran in Sunday’s Tribune Chronicle.