Minn. Memorial Honoring WWII Hero, an IBEW Member, Opens


May 27, 2013

Front and center of a new Memorial Day dedication in Minnesota is an IBEW member and one of the once-anonymous Marines who were the first to raise the American flag on Iwo Jima.

A few short months after that moment in February 1945 in the Pacific theatre, Charles Lindberg returned stateside to raise a family and build a career as an electrician and member of Minneapolis Local 292. It wasn’t until 2001 that history came knocking with long-overdue recognition for the first flag raising – not the iconic image captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal that was recreated for the Marine Corps War Memorial as an image of wartime tenacity and patriotism.

The Honoring All Veterans Memorial will open on Memorial Day in Richfield, Minn., where Lindberg lived for many years. Designed to honor veterans of every service, the centerpiece is a bust of the former Marine.  Lindberg was part of the platoon that captured Mt. Suribachi and one of six marines to raise an American flag at the peak.

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 off shore, 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.

Wounded in the arm, Lindberg was awarded the Silver Star, “for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.” An IBEW member for more than 50 years, Lindberg was there for the memorial’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2007, but died a few weeks later.

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.”

Construction has been steady but slow. “Until this year, it had still been mostly a vision,” Peterson said.

But with the finishing touches to the landscaping, the memorial is now ready, and this Memorial Day, Peterson says he expects a large crowd to walk beneath the bronze statue of Lindberg and read the veterans’ names carved into the 10 granite columns. 

“This is a place to honor all veterans, not just those who died in battle or who fought in World War II,” Peterson said. “This is a place for the veterans from the past and the ones who are serving today.  This is their place too.”