|Born||12 Jan 1923|
|Died||24 Jan 1955|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Ira Hamilton Hayes was born on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona, United States. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1942 and was trained as a paratrooper. Because of his ethnicity as a Pima, a Native American tribe, he was nicknamed Chief Falling Cloud by his comrades. Quiet by nature, he was pushed to become a national hero when he happened to be one of the Marines who helped in the raising of the replacement flag atop Mount Suribachi on 23 Feb 1945. The photograph by Joe Rosenthal quickly became a national sensation, stirring up American morale. Hayes was recalled to the United States to star in a war bonds tour, but during the tour his problems with alcoholism eventually brought him back to combat. He was disappointed, but the Marine Corps saved his face (or perhaps the Corps' own) by announcing that it was Hayes' own decision to be back with his fellow Marines. He was promoted to the rank of corporal before being discharged from the Marine Corps.
After the war, Hayes attempted to lead an anonymous life, only be be disturbed by the occasional visitors. "I kept getting hundreds of letters. And people would drive through the reservation, walk up to me and ask, 'Are you the Indian who raised the flag on Iwo Jima'?" In 1949, along with John Bradley, he was invited to star in the John Wayne film Sands of Iwo Jima, but in the end Hayes and Bradley only apeared in the movie for a few minutes and they hardly acted as consultants; they were simply being used by the producers of the film as instruments of marketing.
On 24 Jan 1955, Hayes was found dead on the Gila River Indian Reservation. He had been drinking with several others, which led to the official report that the death was related to the alcohol consumed, but Hayes' brothers were convinced that fellow Pima Henry Setoyant had something to do with Hayes' death. The brothers' accusation remained only an accusation.
Hayes now rests in peace in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, United States.
Sources: Flags of Our Fathers, Wikipedia.
Ira Hayes Timeline
|12 Jan 1923||Ira Hayes was born.|
|24 Jan 1955||Ira Hayes passed away.|
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