A Minnesota Marine, Charles "Chuck" Lindberg (no relation to the famous pilot) passed away yesterday.....
Not big news.....just one of the millions of WWII veterans that are leaving us every day. He was an ordinary guy, a WWII veteran, not famous or anything.....
But.....he was the last surviving member of a small group of Marines that fought their way to the top of Mount Suribachi and raised the first American flag to fly over Iwo Jima.
Yesterday they replayed an interview he gave to TV in 2000. He said that there were "8 or 10 of us and one the guys had an American flag in his backpack. We found an old steel pole, tied the flag to that and put it up."
He said that even at that height (about 550 feet) and above the sounds of battle, he could hear the Marines cheering below.
The flag wasn't very large, so they sent a guy down to get a bigger one. He brought back a ship's flag from an LST, and that was the flag (the second one) in the famous picture taken by photographer Joe Rosenthal.
By that time, Chuck and his band of brothers had moved on down the other side of the mountain.....cleaning out Japs holed up in the caves. No big deal, just another day to fight or die on Iwo.
He never considered himself special.....or having done anything extraordinary....just another Marine, lucky to have survived Iwo Jima.
But I think.....a true hero died yesterday. Not because he raised a flag.....but because he did his job, and did it well.....preserving our freedom at the risk of his life.