View Full Version : Myths of Iwo Jima

08-21-2011, 09:32 AM
August 20, 2011
I first heard the “13th hand” story early in 1999 from a group of 4-H youngsters from California. Then, I could not confirm or deny the story — but I did not believe it was true — so I began researching it and before the year was out I published the booklet “The Iwo Jima Memorial & the Myth of the 13th Hand.” Over two editions (1999, 2001), 13 thousand copies were sold. It is no longer in print.

My research for the booklet was conducted at the Marine Corps History Center, the National Archives, with knowledgeable veterans who had fought on Iwo Jima with the unit that raised the two flags on 23 February, in many books and articles about the battle and hundreds of visits to the memorial. I happened to be at the memorial one day when the statue’s sculptor, Felix deWeldon, also was visiting there. I was able to ask him how he thought the myth began. Mr. deWeldon admitted he did not know, but he threw his hands up and said, “Thirteen hands! Who needed thirteen, twelve were enough!
Since 1999, on a time-available basis, I have lectured at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia about the fiction of a 13th hand and have answered questions about Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima and other topics. Judging by the considerable number of people who search for the 13th hand, the myth is still alive!

08-28-2011, 03:01 PM
Never heard the story, but..

In 1982 while attending the VN Vet Memorial dedication, I went out to Arlington on the 9th.
There was a bunch of Marines policing up the area and getting it ready for the 10th.

On the way, I picked up a radio program where they were interviewing the sculptor.

He was asked if he would change or redo anything on the statue.

He replied that he had visited it many times over the years and was proud to say "I did a good job and would not change a thing!"

I agree.

08-29-2011, 03:07 PM
Thanks for the information. I dug out a "log note" from my files that shows I met with deWeldon on June 29, 2001. Accompanied by a Marine lieutenant colonel and a civilian from SecNav's office, he was enroute to Pensacola, FL for the commissioning of the latest USS Iwo Jima. The meeting was completely fortuitous. I was there lecturing to visiting Girl Scouts and and 4H-ers, and also being photographed for an article in Marines magazine, when deWeldon and escorts appeared.