In 1943 Harlon H. Block was one of 8 members of his high school class who enlisted in The Marine Corps together. That’s Harlon on the right in the photo. He was 18 at the time.
Two years later on February 24 he was one of the 6 men who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi. Harlon is the one in front at the bottom of the flagstaff. Joe Rosenthal took the historic photo that captured the event. He won a Pulitzer Prize for it. That photo inspired the sculpture that was placed in Arlington National Cemetery. This iconic Marine Corps War Memorial was dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 on the 179th anniversary of this branch of the service.
Three of the 6 men who raised the flag died on Iwo Jima. Harlon H. Block was killed in action 6 days after he took part in the event. He was buried on the island. After the war his body was returned to Weslaco, Texas, his hometown. A replica of the Iwo Jima monument rose in Weslaco and was placed on the Parade Ground of the Marine Military Academy in 1982. Harlon was moved to be near it in 1995.
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who also grew to manhood in Texas, wrote the tribute to the fighting men on Iwo Jima that is inscribed on this memorial’s black Brazilian granite base. “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.”