First Lieutenant John Keith Wells, the Marine commander whose men raised the flag at Mt. Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima, has died.
The 94-year-old had received the Navy Cross, Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his heroism. Wells commanded the 3rd Platoon, Easy Co., 28th Marine Regiment during the battle. That platoon was part of the force that landed on Feb. 19, 1945. Although he was wounded by the Japanese, his unit was instrumental in the assault there.
Wells’ men raised the first flag on the mountain. Hours later, a second group of Marines replaced the initial flag with a larger one, which was immortalized in the iconic photograph and monument dedicated to those who fought the battle.
Wells died Feb. 11, just days before the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima.