An Open Letter To Clint Eastwood
I see by recent news articles that you are to be involved in a new film regarding the raising of our flag on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. I have wondered if this is going to be yet another of the usual party line accounts, or if this one will finally be an in-depth full story and truth of that event in our history.
Since it is you involved this time, I expect the latter could be the case, and I think it's worth a shot to attempt to bring the following information to your attention in hopes that the story of Marine Ray Jacobs, and others, might finally be brought to the attention of the American public in a way that is worthy of both the event and the men themselves.
Jacobs is one of the known remaining survivors, along with Chuck Lindberg, of Lt. Schrier's 40-man combat patrol up Suribachi that day to raise our colors over the Japanese homeland. I am referring here to the earlier first (so-called) flag raising--not the later raising of a replacement flag that was photographed by Joe Rosenthal (and was also shot by Sgt Bill Genaust on motion-picture film as well)--and which quickly, and incorrectly, became famous as the Iwo Jima flag raising well-known to all. The actual flag raising was photographed earlier that same day by Marine S/Sgt Lou Lowery, and is not nearly so well-known. Even today, nearly sixty years after the battle for Iwo Jima, a number of facts are still in question, and the emphasis of the flag raising itself remains on the replacement flag and not the original flag raised.
Jacobs' own recent Eyewitness Account and photos describing the flag raising, as well as other information, may be viewed here...
Ray Jacobs may be reached at the following E-Mail address...
Hoping this finds its way to your eyes. Thank you for your kind attention.
(From Ray Jacobs firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fri, 13 Aug 2004 15:49:22 -0700
To bring you up to date..About two months ago I contacted James Ebert,a Forensic Photo Analyst.I asked him to examine the Lou Lowery pictures taken during the first flag raising on Iwo Jima and to compare them with pictures of me taken in and around the same time period.
Ebert is the same analyst who proved to Colonel Dave Severance that Gerald Zeihme was pictured in Joe Rosenthal's so called "Gung Ho" picture of the group of Marines and Corpsmen waving around the flag on Mt.Suribachi.
His has unassailable credentials in this field.
Attached you will find his report to me in the form of a letter.You may use the letter as you wish.
Thanks for your patience.
EBERT & ASSOCIATES
3700 RIO GRANDE BLVD. N.W., SUITE 3
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO 87107-3042
Facsimile (505) 344-2444
August 9, 2004
1432 Mt. Diablo Circle
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Thank you for trusting me with your photographs, which I have spent some time analyzing. As you know, I am a forensic photogrammetrist and have considerable experience in making and evaluating identifications of individuals depicted in photographs, video, and other sorts of images. In making comparisons of individuals in such images, I use digital image processing to optimize the visibility of facial and other details, to examine them closely, and sometimes also use digital imaging and mapping techniques to make comparative measurements.
When you first sent me copies of the photographs taken by Sgt. Lou Lowery on February 23, 1945 at the first flag raising atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, and other photographs of you taken at various times, I explained to you in some detail my professional “philosophy” regarding the identification of individuals in photographs. Identifications and comparisons of individuals depicted in images are sometimes difficult or impossible for a number of reasons. Many different people look very much the same, and conversely, a single “known” individual can look quite different in photographs taken even a short time apart. Differences in the resolution and the conditions under which photographs were taken often make comparisons difficult too, and in my experience high quality, original negatives or photo prints, especially for older photos, are almost never available.
When I make comparisons of individuals in photographs and other images, I always look first for “unique” identifying patterns, such things as patterns of freckles or moles, distinctive scars, broken or crooked teeth, or other things that would be exceedingly unlikely to occur in two separate individuals. I did not find any such unique patterns in the photographs you sent me. As you suggested to me, the young Ray Jacobs didn’t have any such facial “defects,” but even if he had they might very well have been undetectable because of the quality and resolution of the photographs, particularly the Lowery photographs you obtained from Leatherneck Magazine, which upon close inspection I have concluded are some sort of photomechanical or at least multi-generational photo copies.
Given images like that, what I would do to illustrate that the radioman on Mt. Suribachi in the Lowery pictures is you would be just what you already did in your “Eyewitness Account” book: to scale and juxtapose comparable photos known to be you next to the Lowery pictures and note the similarities. And the similarities between the “known” Ray Jacobs in the photos you sent me, and the radioman in Lowery’s Mt. Suribachi photos, are striking.
Just as important, however, is the lack of dissimilarities, which brings me to the culmination of my professional philosophy regarding identifications of individuals from photographs. First, I do not think any suggestion of a “positive identification” can or should be made based on any single type of physical evidence, be it photographic comparisons, fingerprints, bite marks, or whatever, particularly in any legal case. In cases such as the identification of Ray Jacobs as the radioman on Mt. Suribachi, however, a second line of reasoning is, I think, more germane: whether, given the physical evidence that is available – i.e. the photographs – there is any reason to believe that the radioman is not Ray Jacobs.
And based on the photographic evidence I have seen, there isn’t. One way to state my conclusion is that if I were given the photos you sent, and the Lowery photos, and asked to try to illustrate that the radioman was not Ray Jacobs, I could not do so. Another way to state this conclusion is that, based on my experience in the identification of individuals in photographs, and on my examination of the photos you sent that we know are you, when I look at the radioman in the Lowery photographs I am looking at Ray Jacobs.
I also need to comment here in regard to the Lowery photo of the radioman from behind, looking out to sea, and the markings on his canteen cover. Given the data I have, a chemical photo print sent to me by Colonel Dave E. Severance, USMC (Ret), and a digital version of the same image sent by Colonel W. G. Ford, USMC (Ret), the editor of Leatherneck Magazine, I can easily conclude that the radioman is the same individual as that depicted in the other Lowery photos, but I cannot decipher the name on the canteen cover. When one can’t unambiguously read printing or writing in a photo, image processing techniques will not “magically” recover details that aren’t inherent in the image. In such a case everyone, including me, is reduced to simply guessing. And when I do this, I see what looks to me like seven characters, spelling out something like “Cachall,” or “Gachall,” or perhaps “Gabrial.”
In a number of past forensic cases in which objects or details were just too “fuzzy” in a photograph to allow unambiguous identification, I have used an essentially reverse technique of making an image of an exemplar object and intentionally blurring and otherwise distorting the image of the exemplar to make it comparable to the fuzzy image. If the printing on the radioman’s canteen cover were stencilled and the same kind of stencil could be located, such a reverse imaging technique might be used to further contentions of what the printing said. Based on the photographic data I have examined, however, it wouldn’t change my opinion that the radioman shown in the Lowery photos taken on Mt. Suribachi is Ray Jacobs.
James I. Ebert, PhD
Certified Photogrammetrist (ASPRS)
Fellow, American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Clint's Double Take
Eastwood directs two films on the battle of Iwo Jima: one from the
U.S. side, the other from the Japanese
By RICHARD SCHICKEL Time Magazine
Sometime this month in Chicago, Clint Eastwood will complete principal
photography on his latest movie, Flags of Our Fathers. It's the 26th
feature film he has directed since he made Play Misty for Me in 1971.
And just as he has done before (The Bridges of Madison County, Mystic
River), he is basing it on a best-selling book. But this movie is
different from all the others that he or anyone else has directed, for
Flags is only half the story he wants to tell.
The book, by James Bradley and Ron Powers, recounts the ultimately
tragic tale of six young U.S. Marines who happened to raise a huge
American flag atop Mount Suribachi in the midst of the great battle
for Iwo Jima during World War II, of how an Associated Press
photographer squeezed off what he thought was a routine shot of them
doing so that became an iconic image, of what happened to some of
those kids (only three survived the next few days of battle) when they
were hustled home to be heedlessly exploited by the U.S. government to
raise civilian morale and, incidentally, sell billions of dollars'
worth of war bonds. That story, rich in darkly ambiguous nuance, would
have been more than enough to preoccupy Eastwood's attention for a
couple of years.
But when Eastwood tried to buy the rights, he discovered that Steven
Spielberg already had them, and so he moved on instead to Million
Dollar Baby. Then, backstage at the 2004 Academy Awards (at which his
Mystic River was a multiple nominee), Eastwood encountered Spielberg,
and before the evening was out, they agreed to a Flags co-production,
with Eastwood directing. Shortly thereafter, the project began to
elicit an uncommon, almost obsessive, interest from its director. He
has not often attempted fact-based movies, and he had never undertaken
one that contained such huge combat scenes. He began to read more
widely and deeply on the subject. And he began talking to both
American and Japanese veterans of Iwo Jima, which remains the
bloodiest engagement in Marine Corps history and the one for which the
most Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded (27). As for the
Japanese, only about 200 out of 22,000 defending soldiers survived. At
some point in his research, Eastwood realized that he had to find a
way to tell both sides of the story--"not in the Tora! Tora! Tora!
way, where you cut back and forth between the two sides," he says,
"but as separate films."
So, beginning next February, Eastwood will start shooting the
companion movie, tentatively called Lamps Before the Wind, scheduled
for simultaneous release with Flags next fall. Typically, Eastwood
(who is an old friend of this writer's) is not able to articulate
fully his rationale for this ambitious enterprise: "I don't
know--sometimes you get a feeling about something. You have a
premonition that you can get something decent out of it," he says.
"You just have to trust your gut." He asked Paul Haggis, who wrote
Flags, if he would like to write the Japanese version as well. The
writer of Million Dollar Baby and director of Crash, Haggis was
overbooked but thought an aspiring young Japanese-American
screenwriter, Iris Yama****a, who had helped him research Flags, might
be able to do it. She met with Eastwood, and once again his gut spoke;
he gave her the job and liked her first draft so much that he bought
it. It was she who insisted on giving him a few rewrites she thought
her script still needed.
Taken together, the two screenplays show that the battle of Iwo
Jima--and by implication, the whole war in the Pacific--was not just a
clash of arms but a clash of cultures. The Japanese officer class,
imbued with the quasi-religious fervor of their Bushido code, believed
that surrender was dishonor, that they were all obliged to die in
defense of their small island. That, of course, was not true of the
attacking Americans. As Eastwood puts it, "They knew they were going
into harm's way, but you can't tell an American he's absolutely fated
to die. He will work hard to get the job done, but he'll also work
hard to stay alive." And to protect his comrades-in-arms. As Haggis'
script puts it, the Americans "may have fought for their country, but
they died for their friends, for the man in front, for the man beside
Yama****a's script is much more relentlessly cruel. In essence, the
Japanese officers compelled the bravery (and suicide) of their troops
at gunpoint. Only the Japanese commander, Lieut. General Tadamichi
Kuribayashi (a mysterious historical figure who fascinates Eastwood),
and a fictional conscript, Saigo, whose fate Yama****a intertwines
with his commanding officer's, demonstrate anything like humanity as a
Westerner might understand it. The lieutenant general, educated in
part in the U.S., is respectful of its national spirit (and industrial
might) and believes that a live soldier, capable of carrying on the
fight, is infinitely more valuable than a dead one enjoying an
honorable afterlife. Thanks to his preservationist tactics, a battle
that was supposed to last five days consumed almost 40, though honor
demanded his suicide in the end. Saigo, who, as Eastwood says, "wants
what most human beings want" (a peaceful life with friends and
family), meets an unexpected fate.
The Japanese film derives much of its strength from its claustrophobic
confinement to a horrendous time and place. Haggis' work gains its
power from its confident range. The screenplay starts with the
Americans on the beaches and the protagonists raising the flag. It
follows them on their vulgar war-bond tour (they were obliged to
re-enact the flag raising on a papier-mÃ¢chÃ© Suribachi at Soldier
Field in Chicago) and then traces their postwar descent into
dream-tossed anonymity. You could argue that the Japanese were the
lucky ones: their government and religion foreordained their fate, and
they had no choice but to endure it. Chance played more capriciously
with the Americans, who liked to think they were in charge of their
destinies. Yet Flag's protagonists end up knowing that they were
blessed by nothing more than a photo op--and knowing that the true,
unacknowledged heroes were the men left behind to fight and die on Iwo
Jima's black sands. The film follows three survivors: Ira Hayes
(played by Adam Beach), Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford) and John Bradley
(Ryan Phillippe), the co-author's father. To put it mildly, their
lives do not continue on a heroic trajectory. At one point Bradley,
forever assailed by nightmares that he never discusses, wishes that
"there hadn't been a flag on the end of that pole."
The inscrutability of fate has always been a major Eastwoodian
subtext. But now, as he approaches his 76th birthday, he has begun to
take it personally. "There are so many people who are as good or
better than me who aren't working," he says of his career, "while I
still am. I can't explain that, but luck has to play a part." Here's
hoping his luck holds.
7,000 Marines died at Iwo Jima in February and March 1945, the
bloodiest event in U.S. Marine Corps history. By making a film from
their killers' perspective, Dirty Harry dishonors them, WWII veterans,
America, and himself. As aging actor past his prime, I guess he never
heard the phrase "death before dishonor."
I should think Eastwood's "gut" feeling should tell him that it would
be all well and good to also tell the story from the Japanese point of
view, but I am confounded that such sensitivity would not include
first telling the truth, the real story, about Old Glory on Suribachi!
I know that all Marines are well informed, having taken it upon
themselves to delve into and beyond the usual party line history
topics, and are well aware that Rosenthal's photo and the
corresponding information on the so-called Iwo Flag Raising, is only,
in actuality, the raising of a "replacement flag" some time later on
the same day that the actual flag raising occurred. Yet, the actual
flag raising event is given short shrift, briefly mentioned only,
reduced to a mere footnote, or maybe not mentioned at all in writings
regarding this historic event.
Source: GyG's OSMT Forum
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