The photograph was taken on February 26, 1945 when U.S. forces claimed the top of Mt. Suribachi. It was actually a photograph of the second flag raising on the top of that mountain. The first flag raising was photographed as well, but the image of the 5 Marines and 1 Navy Corpsman is the one we all know and love. It received a Pulitzer Prize and was later used as the inspiration for the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
Two of them died on the same day, 6 days later. Sergeant Michael Strank, Corporal Harlon Block, and PFC Franklin Sousley all died in World War II, within a month of taking the iconic picture.
Sadly, the Battle of Iwo Jima continued on for another month after this momentous event, finally ending on March 26. Strank and Block both died on March 1 while still on the island of Iwo Jima. Strank was killed in action from friendly fire. Block took over command of Strank’s squad and was killed by Japanese mortar fire. Sousley later died on March 21 as the battle was winding down. He was shot in the back by a Japanese sniper. The other three, John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes, lived to see the end of the war and toured the country to promote the war effort.