Doc Bradley recounted how he happened to be in the photo. Sergeant Strank’s squad had been ordered to raise a ship’s flag (9 feet on the hoist by 19 feet on the fly) to replace the storm flag (5x9) raised by the first squad to the top. The larger flag could then be seen by more Marines on the sands below. Strank’s people found a piece of pipe which weighed about 100 pounds and lashed the flag to it. As the 5 Marines struggled with the pole, Doc Bradley was adjusting his gear. Strank said, “Hey, Doc, give us a hand.” Perfect.
Sergeant Strank, Corporal Block, and PFC Sousley were killed in action within the next 30 days, all while advancing against the enemy. Doc Bradley, who had already been nominated for the Navy Cross for gallantry on D-Day, was seriously wounded and evacuated, but not before tending to two wounded Marines and seeing them evacuated before he would even consider his own wounds.
Admiral Nimitz later commented that “Among the Marines on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”