LOS ANGELES (AP) — Alan Wood, a World War II veteran credited with providing the flag in the famous flag-raising on Iwo Jima, has died. He was 90. Wood died April 18 of natural causes at his Sierra Madre home, his son Steven Wood said Saturday. Wood was a 22-year-old Navy officer in charge of communications on a landing ship on Iwo Jima’s shores Feb. 23, 1945 when a Marine asked him for the biggest flag that he could find.
After five days of fighting to capture the Japanese-held island, U.S. forces had managed to scale Mount Suribachi to hoist an American flag.
Wood happened to have a 37-square-foot flag he had found months before in a Pearl Harbor Navy depot. .
Five Marines and a Navy Corpsman later raised that flag in a stirring moment captured by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.
Steven Wood says his father was always humbled by his small role in the historic moment.
In a 1945 letter to a Marine general who asked for details about the flag, Wood wrote: “The fact that there were men among us who were able to face a situation like Iwo where human life is so cheap, is something to make humble those of us who were so very fortunate not to be called upon to endure such hell.”
In its story on Wood’s death, the Los Angeles Times reported that over the years others have claimed that they provided the flag, but retired Marine Col. Dave Severance, who commanded the company that took Mount Suribachi, said in an interview last week that it was Wood.
“I have a file of more than 60 people who claim to have had something to do with the flags,” he said from his home in La Jolla, Calif.
Wood went on to work as technical artist and spokesman at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge.
His wife, Elizabeth, died in 1985. Besides his son, Wood was survived by three grandchildren.