IRA HAYES S T O R Y
Ira Hamilton Hayes (January 12, 1923 – January 24, 1955) was an Akimel O'odham Native American and a United States Marine during World War II. Hayes was an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community, located in Pinal and Maricopa counties in Arizona. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on August 26, 1941, and, after recruit training, volunteered to become a Paramarine. He fought in the Bougainville and Iwo Jima campaigns in the Pacific War.
Hayes was generally known as one of the six flag raisers immortalized in the iconic photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by photographer Joe Rosenthal.The first flag raised over Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 at the south end of Iwo Jima, was deemed too small and replaced the same day by a larger flag. A photo of the second flag-raising, which included Hayes in it, became famous and was widely reproduced. After the battle, Hayes and two other men were identified as surviving second flag-raisers and were reassigned to help raise funds for the Seventh War Loan drive. In 1946, after his service in the Marine Corps, he was instrumental in revealing the correct identity of one of the Marines in the photograph.
On November 10, 1954, he attended the dedication of the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, which was modeled after the photograph of Hayes and five other Marines raising the second flag on Iwo Jima.
He left an indelible mark on the Nation and his Arizona community. It is with great pride that our Detachment was named for this American hero. Through the perseverance and determination of our leadership and their commitment to performing as a strong MCL unit, we will continue to honor this faithful and dedicated Marine.