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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 11:47 GMT
Last Iwo Jima flag veteran dies
American flag on Mount Suribachi
Jacobs maintains he was shown in the Leatherback photo
A soldier believed to be the last survivor of a group of marines pictured raising the US flag on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima in 1945 has died.

Raymond Jacobs died of natural causes at the age of 82 last week, his daughter told the Associated Press.

The capture of Iwo Jiwa, more than 1,000km (621 miles) south of Tokyo, followed one of the key battles of World War II.

The flag was raised on Mount Suribachi on 23 February 1945.

Mr Jacobs had always maintained that he was the radio operator seen looking up at the flag, in a picture of the first flag-raising, taken by a photographer for Leatherneck magazine.

Some veterans had questioned his claim as his face is not fully visible in the photograph.

Map showing Iwo Jima, now renamed as Iwo To
But newspaper reports and negatives from the same roll of film suggest he was on the mountain during the flag-raising ceremony.

He is said to have returned to his unit by the time a more famous Associated Press photograph of a second flag-raising was taken later the same day.

Territory captured

Jacobs later fought in the Korean conflict in 1951 before retiring as a sergeant. He went on to work as a reporter, anchor and news director in local television in Oakland.

The battle of Iwo Jima saw 100,000 US troops attack 22,000 entrenched Japanese soldiers.

The island was the first Japanese territory attacked directly by ground troops in the war.

Most of the Japanese soldiers died in battle rather than be taken prisoner.

The Americans occupied the island after the war, and returned it to Japan in 1968.

The island has now been renamed Iwo To, as it was known before the war, to reflect the wishes of its original inhabitants.



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