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July 2013

Minn. Memorial Honoring WWII Hero, and
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More than 1,500 people attended the Memorial Day dedication of a Minnesota veteran's monument built around the statue of an IBEW member and Marine who helped to raise the American flag on Iwo Jima.

The Honoring All Veterans Memorial in Richfield, Minn., includes the names of men and women who served in all branches of the military and nearly a dozen wars, but the centerpiece is Minneapolis Local 292 member and World War II veteran Charles Lindberg.

In 1945, Lindberg was part of the platoon that finally took the peak of Mount Suribachi after four days of some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. He helped cobble together a flagpole and hoist a small flag — letting thousands of Marines know the battle was over. It was the first time an American flag had been raised over captured Japanese territory since Pearl Harbor.

Several hours later, while Lindberg was fighting Japanese soldiers still dug in on the north side of Iwo Jima, the first flag was replaced by a much larger one. That second flag raising, captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal, became an iconic image of the fighting spirit of American troops and was recreated for the Marine Corps War Memorial. Less than a week later, Lindberg's role in the war was over. He suffered a gunshot in the arm and was later awarded the Silver Star "for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States."

While the Marines in Rosenthal's picture became celebrities, Lindberg and the rest of the first flag team were nearly forgotten. A few short months after the battle, Charles Lindberg returned stateside to raise a family and build a career as an electrician and member of Minneapolis Local 292.

But the people who knew Lindberg — his family, his brothers in Local 292 and St. Paul Local 110 — knew the true story and a small but determined campaign was launched to set the record straight.

The IBEW Journal wrote in 2001:

Lindberg helped raise the flag that mattered to those who were there. Mt. Suribachi was the eyes of Iwo, the highest point on the volcanic island, and it took four horribly bloody days for the Marines to get there, crawling inch by inch as Japanese guns from underground fortifications in every cave rained death on them.

Then they saw that U.S. flag go up. The troops started cheering, and some were crying, and the ships whistles sounded offshore. Brother Lindberg says, 'It was something I will never forget.'

It took another month of severe fighting before the campaign was declared over. The American death toll at Iwo Jima was 6,800 — about 6,000 of them Marines — more than the Normandy invasion the year before and the most since Gettysburg in the Civil War.

Brother Lindberg's weapon was a flame-thrower, a 72-pound rig he was strapped into throughout the trek with the flag and the fighting that followed its unfurling.

Brian Peterson, a retired member of Local 292, said that when a local artist, Travis Gorshe, was commissioned to build a monument in Richfield's Veterans Park, Lindberg quickly became the focal point of the plans.

"The first raisers were never really recognized," said Peterson, who has been on the memorial's board since 2005. "It was important to us that we did."

Ground was broken for the memorial in 2007 in Richfield, where Lindberg lived for many years. Lindberg passed away only a few weeks later and never saw the statue carved in his image rise nearly a dozen feet in the air. Construction has been steady but slow.

"Until this year, it had still been mostly a vision," Peterson said.

At the memorial dedication, Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, spoke about sacrifice and memory. The men and women who built the memorial were called to the front and recognized for their work before the 34th Infantry Division Band closed the ceremony with taps. Then the crowds wove their way between the statue and the six granite columns covered with veterans' names and services.

Rodney Lindberg, Charles' son and a veteran himself, also spoke. He talked about how important it was that his father's example would be honored in the place he called home built by people he called brothers and sisters.

"From the bottom of my heart, he was a hero," Lindberg said. "Yes, for what he did, but the way he lived his life afterward made him just as much a hero."


The statue of Minneapolis Local 292 member and World War II veteran Charles Lindberg is the centerpiece of the new memorial.