Col. Dave Severance, Commander at Iwo Jima, Dies at 102

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He sent Marines to the apical of Mount Suribachi to works the flag. Captured successful a photograph, the country remains an enduring representation of American men astatine war.

When the Marine institution  commanded by Col. Dave Severance raised a immense  American emblem  implicit    the Japanese land  of Iwo Jima, it inspired this photograph, which thrilled the American location  front. But the conflict  for Iwo Jima was not yet over.
Credit...Joe Rosenthal/Associated Press

Published Aug. 4, 2021Updated Aug. 5, 2021, 9:51 a.m. ET

Col. Dave Severance, the commandant of the Marine institution that raised a immense American emblem implicit the Japanese land of Iwo Jima successful World War II, inspiring the photograph that thrilled the American location beforehand and became an enduring representation of men astatine war, died connected Monday astatine his location successful the La Jolla conception of San Diego. He was 102.

His household announced his decease connected Wednesday.

The flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi connected Feb. 23, 1945, captured by an Associated Press photographer, Joe Rosenthal, was taken erstwhile the conflict for Iwo Jima was acold from over. In the days that followed, Colonel Severance earned the Silver Star, the Marines’ third-highest decoration for valor aft the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. The citation stated that successful a firefight for a heavy defended ridge, helium “skillfully directed the battle connected this beardown force presumption contempt stubborn resistance.”

Colonel Severance, a skipper astatine the time, commanded Easy Company of the 28th Marine Regiment, Fifth Marine Division — portion of the 70,000-man Marine unit that sought to prehend Iwo Jima, 7.5 quadrate miles of achromatic volcanic soil astir 660 miles southbound of Tokyo. The island, defended by 21,000 Japanese troops, held airstrips that were needed arsenic bases for American combatant planes and arsenic havens for crippled bombers returning to the Mariana Islands from missions implicit Japan.

Amid dense casualties, the Marines by the 5th time of combat connected Iwo Jima had silenced astir absorption from Japanese soldiers dug into caves connected Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano 546 feet precocious astatine Iwo Jima’s confederate tip.

In midmorning, a radical of Marines from Easy Company raised a emblem astatine the summit, a ceremonial photographed by Sgt. Louis Lowery of the Marine mag Leatherneck. When James Forrestal, the caput of the Navy, who was connected the formation below, saw the flag, helium requested that it beryllium kept arsenic a memento. After it was returned to the beach, Colonel Severance sent different radical of his Marines to bring a larger emblem to the mountaintop.

It was the raising of the 2nd emblem that was portrayed successful Mr. Rosenthal’s melodramatic photograph.

Both flags are present astatine the National Museum of the Marine Corps successful Quantico, Va. Frayed by beardown winds, the 2nd emblem flew supra Mount Suribachi for the remainder of the Iwo Jima campaign. The Joe Rosenthal photograph is successful the National Archives. And the country helium photographed was replicated connected a monumental standard arsenic a statue astatine the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial successful Arlington, Va., crossed the Potomac from the National Mall successful Washington. It is dedicated to “the Marine dormant of each wars and their comrades of different services who fell warring beside them.”


Credit...National WWII Museum

Dave Elliott Severance was calved connected Feb. 4, 1919, successful Milwaukee to Dave and Belle Severance. His household moved to Greely, Colo., erstwhile helium was a child. He attended the University of Washington for a year, past joined the Marines successful 1938.

He was commissioned arsenic a lieutenant and archetypal saw combat arsenic a platoon commandant successful the 1943 conflict for the Pacific land of Bougainville. His platoon was ambushed and chopped disconnected by Japanese troops astir a mile down force lines, but fought its mode retired of an encirclement and wiped retired the force with the nonaccomplishment of lone 1 Marine, according to the National WWII Museum successful New Orleans.

Early successful 1944, helium was promoted to captain. He had six officers and 240 enlisted men nether his bid erstwhile the Marines landed connected Iwo Jima connected Feb. 19, 1945.

After World War II, Colonel Severance completed formation grooming and flew combatant craft during the Korean War. He completed 69 missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was promoted to colonel successful 1962. At his retirement, successful May 1968, helium was adjunct manager of unit astatine Marine headquarters.

His survivors see 2 daughters, Nina Cohen and Lynn Severance; 2 sons, Dave Jr. and Mike; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His matrimony to his archetypal wife, Margaret, ended successful divorce. His 2nd wife, Barbara, died successful 2017.

Colonel Severance was portrayed by Neil McDonough arsenic a Marine skipper and by Harve Presnell arsenic an older antheral successful “Flags of Our Fathers” (2006), Clint Eastwood’s movie astir the six men who raised the emblem astatine Iwo Jima. Colonel Severance was a advisor for the movie.

In a February 2021 interrogation with Coffee oregon Die, Colonel Severance said that from the position of the battlefield, helium had not realized what an affectional chord the 2nd flag-raising would onslaught backmost home. It took Hollywood and John Wayne to bash that for him.

“It wasn’t until 1949, erstwhile the ‘The Sands of Iwo Jima’ came retired — I realized the interaction that infinitesimal and conflict had connected the nation,” helium said.

When Colonel Severance celebrated his 100th birthday, the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, sent him a missive stating, “You played a important relation successful shaping the warrior ethos of our Corps.”

On that occasion, Colonel Severance took a wry look backmost connected his vocation successful an interrogation with the paper La Jolla Light.

Asked however helium would similar to beryllium remembered, helium said, “I ne'er thought astir it,” past added, “Just that I was a Marine for 30 years and I ne'er ended up successful jail.”

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