Artifact Spotlight: USMC Memorial Sculpture

---John Pentangelo, Curator/Registrar

1. The Flag Raising on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal
 On February 23, 1945 Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped his famous photograph of five United States Marines and one Navy corpsman raising the American flag on top of Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The iconic photograph came to represent the hard-fought victories of American servicemen in World War II and the warrior ethos of the United States Marine Corps as well. When world famous sculptor Felix de Weldon (1907-2003) began designing the United States Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, he chose the Flag Raising at Iwo Jima as his subject for the massive bronze sculpture unveiled in 1954.

2. Felix de Weldon's Plaster Model of the USMC Memorial
The Naval War College enjoyed a decades long friendship with Felix de Weldon who lived and worked at Beacon Rock, Newport. Consequently, the artist donated many of his plaster sculptures to the museum, including the portrait busts of eleven College presidents. One of three cast models of the "Iwo Jima" statue in the museum collection was presented on November 12, 1973 and has resided in Spruance Hall since that time. As commander of the 5th Fleet, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (President of the Naval War College, 1946-48) directed the campaign that saw Iwo Jima captured.

The undated plaster sculpture, is 42" high and painted green. After suffering some damage throughout the years, the statue was restored by a conservator and returned to Spruance Hall in 2000.

3. Detail of the de Weldon Model

1.     Courtesy of the National Archives
2, 3. Courtesy of the Naval War College Museum


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