The Marine Corps has identified Harold Schultz, a longtime Postal Service employee who died in 1995, as one of the six men in the iconic World War II photograph of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima.
The Marines began investigating the photo this year after researchers raised questions about the identities of the men in the image.
The investigation determined the man second from left was Schultz, not John Bradley as previously believed.
“Our history is important to us, and we have a responsibility to ensure it’s right,” said Marine Corps General Robert Neller, who led the investigation.
Pfc. Schultz, a Detroit native who enlisted at age 17, was seriously injured during fighting on the Japanese island. Bradley, a Navy hospital corpsman, had been involved in a flag raising hours before the famous photo was taken.
Schultz received a Purple Heart for his heroism in 1946. He got a postal job in Los Angeles about a year later and sorted mail until he retired in 1981, according to news reports.
Dezreen MacDowell, 54, his stepdaughter, told Time that Schultz knew he was in the photograph but never wanted to make a big deal about it.
“I said, ‘My God, Harold, you were a hero,’” MacDowell recalled. “And he responded, ‘No, not really, I was a Marine.’”