July 9, 2007

HT graduate part of Marine Corps' salute to Iwo Jima flag raiser

World War II Marine veteran Chuck Lindberg was the last survivor of the men who raised the first flag at Iwo Jima

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

During World War II and the battle for the island of Iwo Jima, six marines at the top of Mount Suribachi raised the first American flag on Japanese soil. It was an unforgettable moment in history.

The flag was tied to a broken water pipe, and was raised by the Marines of the Third Platoon, Easy Company, 28th Regiment, Fifth Marine Division, Feb. 22, 1945.

More than 60 years later, the last remaining survivor of those six Marines to raise that first flag, Chuck Lindberg, was laid to rest after a funeral service at the Fort Snelling Cemetery June 29.

US Marine Lance Corporal Eric Campbell, a 2004 Holy Trinity graduate, was proud to be part of the service for Lindberg.

When Campbell first learned of Lindberg’s death, he was with approximately 350 other Marines at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin participating in an annual two-week training.

“When my platoon sergeant told us Chuck Lindberg had died and asked if anyone would like to be part of the rifle detail, I volunteered for it right away,” Campbell said.

He knew immediately who Lindberg was. He had seen him when he was a guest of honor at a Marine Silent Drill Platoon performance at the Xcel Energy Center in 2004.

“Everybody recognized him. Looking back at that now, I never thought I would be able to serve at his funeral,” Campbell said. “It meant a lot to me to be able to do it. Not just for him, but for all of the veterans of all of the wars that should be recognized for their service, as well.”

Campbell knew the history behind the Iwo Jima story and the significance of the flag-raising to the US Marine Corps, which modeled a statue at its base in Arlington, Va. after it.

It has been documented that there were two flag raisings at Iwo Jima. Lindberg, with five other Marines, secured the top of Mount Suribachi and raised an American flag to the cheers of thousands of Marines and sailors on the island below and on the ships anchored nearby.

One veteran who was standing at the bottom of Mount Suribachi said, “It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.”

But four hours later, after the first flag had been lowered, and a second flag was raised, Lindberg was no longer on top of the mountain. He was fighting Japanese soldiers hiding in caves only yards from the flag.

Only in the last couple of decades did Lindberg get some recognition for his part in the first flag-raising. He was asked to appear at a number of Marine functions and his name was readily recognized.

The funeral service at Fort Snelling Cemetery lasted about a half-hour. Campbell’s parents, Kevin and Lois Campbell of Mayer, his girlfriend, Shelbie Dial, and his uncle, Jim Campbell, were also in attendance.

“Part of the procession to the cemetery had 40 to 50 motorcycles with American flags flying on them,” Eric said. “It was amazing to see all of those flags. There were two F16s that flew over and four World War II aircraft.

“It was very inspiring for me. It will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Eric said.

Eric Campbell joined the US Marine Corps in 2004

Eric reported to boot camp in California June 14, 2004. After boot camp, he was sent to Marine combat training, where he learned multiple weaponry.

After combat training, he was sent for training in field radio operations for an additional six weeks. All of his training was in California.

He then returned to Minnesota where he began attending St. Cloud State University. He plans to graduate in May of 2008 with a degree in finance.

For the summer, Eric is working as an intern in the finance department at Lockheed Martin in Egan.

Lockheed is the world’s largest defense contractor, making ballistic missiles, munitions, transport aircraft, fighter aircraft, radar satellites, and numerous other products.

After his college graduation, Eric, who is part of the Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 471, has been told that there is a possibility of deployment within one year to 18 months.

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