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The life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in WWII.
[last lines] James Bradley: I finally came to the conclusion that he maybe he was right. Maybe there's no such thing as heroes. Maybe there are just people like my dad. I finally came to understand why they were so uncomfortable being called heroes. Heroes are something we create, something we need. It's a way for us to understand what's almost incomprehensible, how people could sacrifice so much for us, but for my dad and these men, the risks they took, the wounds they suffered, they did that for their buddies. They may have fought for their country but they died for their friends. For the man in front, for the man beside him, and if we wish to truly honor these men we should remember them the way they really were, the way my dad remembered them.
John Bradley: Where is he? Oh god... James Bradley: He's not here dad. He died. John Bradley: Who? Who died? James Bradley: Iggy. John Bradley: Iggy. Christ, Iggy. I hadn't thought of him for years. How do you know about Iggy? James Bradley: You were calling for him, when you collapsed. John Bradley: I wasn't looking for Iggy. I was looking for you. I wanted to... I wanted to tell you I'm sorry I wasn't a better father, talk to you more, I just... I'm sorry. James Bradley: Sorry? You were the best father a man could have. John Bradley: Did I ever tell you they took us swimming? James Bradley: No, dad. John Bradley: After we planted the flag, we came down off the mountain and went swimming. It was the funniest thing. All this fighting, and we were jumping around in the water like kids. That's the way that I remember Iggy now.
Ralph "Iggy" Ignatowski: Did you hear the good news, Doc? We're going in with the first wave. [has something thrown at him] Ralph "Iggy" Ignatowski: Hey! Hey, you do that again I'll take your head off. Huh? Fuckin' dominos. John "Doc" Bradley: Iggy, have you ever heard news you considered to be bad? Ralph "Iggy" Ignatowski: The first ones off the ship, Doc. Means we don't go over the side of the ship. We hop on a tractor that drives us right there. John "Doc" Bradley: Shit. That is good news. Ralph "Iggy" Ignatowski: See? what'd I tell ya?
John "Doc" Bradley: [At the mock Mount Suribachi in Soldier Field] You gotta be kidding. Bud Gerber: Hey, it took a lot of talented folks a long time to make that thing. Just wait till tonight when it's lit properly and there's thousands of cheering people in the stands, it's gonna look a lot better. So, stadium lights come down, spotlight comes up, you get your cue, you charge up this thing with the flag, you plant it at the top. You smile, you wave, you know the drill. John "Doc" Bradley: You want us to plant the flag on a pile of papier-mache. Bud Gerber: Hey, that's showbiz. And try to stand how you stood the first time you planted it. Just, you know, pretend the other three guys are with you. Ira Hayes: The *dead* guys.
Bud Gerber: People on the street corners, they looked at this picture and they took hope. Don't ask me why, I think it's a crappy picture, myself. You can't even see your faces! But it said we can win this war, are winning this war, we just need you to dig a little deeper. They want to give us that money. No, they want to give it to *you*.
Ira Hayes: Hank wasn't in the picture. Bud Gerber: Sorry? Ira Hayes: Hank didn't raise that flag. He raised the other one. The real flag. Bud Gerber: The what? The real... the real flag? There's a *real* flag? John "Doc" Bradley: Yeah, ours was the replacement flag. We put it up when they took the other one down. Bud Gerber: Am I the only one getting a headache here? You know about this? Keyes Beech: It was after it was already in the papers. The mothers had already been told by then. Bud Gerber: Aw, that's it, that's beautiful. Yeah, that's beautiful. Yeah, why tell me? I'm only the guy that has to explain it to a hundred and fifty million Americans. Who is in the goddamn picture? Are *any* of you guys in the goddamn picture? Ira Hayes: Yeah, we're in the goddamn picture. Bud Gerber: Six guys raising a flag over Iwo Jima. Victory is ours. You're three of them, right? John "Doc" Bradley: This was the fifth day, sir. The battle went on for thirty-five more. Bud Gerber: Well, what'd you do, raise a goddamn flag every time you stopped for lunch? Ira Hayes: [whispers to Bradley] Can I hit this guy?
Bud Gerber: Hey, you know what? I don't give a shit. You're in the picture, you raised the flag, that's the story we're selling, boys. Ira Hayes: Are you deaf? Hank isn't in the picture. *Harlon* is in the picture. Bud Gerber: Well, who the fuck is Harlon? Ira Hayes: Harlon Block. That's whose mother who should be here if anyone's should be. You know, I think this whole damn thing is a farce, you ask me.
Bud Gerber: You know what they're calling this bond drive? The Mighty Seventh. They might've called it the "We're Flat Fucking Broke And Can't Even Afford Bullets So We're Begging For Your Pennies" bond drive, but it didn't have quite the ring. They could've called it that, though, because the last four bond drives came up so short we just printed money instead. Ask any smart boy on Wall Street, he'll tell you our dollar is next to worthless, we've borrowed so much. And nobody is lending any more. Ships aren't being built, tanks aren't being built, machine guns, bazookas, hand grenades, zip. You think this is a farce? You want to go back to your buddies? Well stuff some rocks in your pockets before you get on the plane, because that's all we got left to throw at the Japanese. And don't be surprised if your plane doesn't make it off the runway, because the fuel dumps are empty. And our good friends, the Arabs, are only taking bullion. If we don't raise $14 billion, and that's million with a "B," this war is over by the end of the month. We make a deal with the Japanese, we give whatever they want and we come home, because you've seen them fight, and they sure as shit ain't giving up. $14 billion! The last three drives didn't make that much all together.
Lindberg: [while losing at poker] Chief, I had very little to do with Sitting Bull's death, so maybe you could stop taking it out on me. Ira Hayes: Different tribe. The Pimas fought on the side of the white man. Gust: See, now that's smart. Hank Hansen: That *is* smart. Ira Hayes: Yeah. Worked real good for us.
Mike Strank: Any man that doesn't have his masturbation papers in order better get them signed by tomorrow night or he ain't going overseas. Gust: I got mine already. Lundsford: Oh, yeah, I'm square. Franklin Sousley: Wait, wait. Why am I just hearing about this? Mike Strank: That's horseshit, Franklin! I don't have to repeat everything twice for you. Franklin Sousley: No, I didn't hear nothin' about no masturbating papers! Ira Hayes: Heard they were running short. Franklin Sousley: You know, nobody tells me nothing. That's real nice, guys! Mike Strank: All right, get your ass over to the officer in charge of records. Maybe he's got some more left. Leave your smokes. I'll play for you. Franklin Sousley: Thanks, Mike. Mike Strank: Listen, if he calls you an idiot, you take it like a man, okay? Just *do not* leave without signing them.
Belle Block: Oh my Lord, that's Harlon! Belle's Young Son: Where? Belle Block: Right there. Planting that flag, that's your brother. Belle's Young Son: Ma, all you can see is his behind. Belle Block: And that's his. I powdered and diapered it, I know my son. That's him. Go get your father. Belle's Young Son: Daddy, Ma's got a picture of Harlon's keister in the paper!
Captain Severance: This isn't just any island to them. This isn't Tarawa, Guam, Tinian, or Saipan. This is Japanese soil, sacred ground. Twelve thousand Japanese defenders in eight square miles, they will not leave politely, gentlemen! It's up to us to convince them.
Captain Severance: Look, I've had to make a few other changes. I'm promoting you, to platoon sergeant. Mike Strank: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Captain Severance: You bet. Mike Strank: The trouble is, I already told my men I'd see them through this. Captain Severance: That your James Cagney impersonation? 'Cause I've heard better. Mike Strank: Well, I'll keep practicing, then. Captain Severance: Look, this isn't your first time through this. You don't need to prove anything. Mike Strank: No, sir. Captain Severance: You're not the *best* sergeant I've ever had, just the best one that's still walking. Block's a good man. Mike Strank: Yes, sir, he is. Captain Severance: The men know him, he can step right in. You know, I have actually thought this through. Platoon sergeant puts you further away from the bullets. Mike Strank: I already gave them my word, sir. I told them I'd bring them all home to their mothers, which means I already lied to half of them. Can't lie to the rest.
Mike Strank: Look for a flash, shoot at it!
[first lines] Soldiers: Corpsman! Corpsman! Corpsman! Corpsman! For God sakes, corpsman! Corpsman! Corpsman!
Ira Hayes: I know it's a good thing, raising the money and that, 'cause we need it. But, I can't take them calling me a hero. All I did was try not to get shot. Some of the things I saw done, things I did, they weren't things to be proud of, you know? Mike... Mike was a hero. You ever meet him? Keyes Beech: No. Ira Hayes: Best Marine I ever met. Keyes Beech: You know, Chief, I think if Mike was sitting here instead of you, he'd be saying the same thing about himself, not being a hero. Ira Hayes: Maybe. He was a good guy, but I think that he'd be ashamed of me, seeing me the way I am.
John "Doc" Bradley: Who are these "Gold Star Mothers?" Bud Gerber: That's what we're calling the mothers of the dead flag-raisers. You present each mother with a flag, they say a few words, people will shit money. It'll be so moving.
Lundsford: You actually chose the Marines because they had the best uniforms? Rene Gagnon: No sense being a hero if you don't look like one.
John "Doc" Bradley: [Repeated line] Where is he? Where is he?
Colonel Chandler Johnson: Our target, Island X, is an ugly, smelly, dirty little scab of rock called Iwo Jima. It means "Sulfur Island," which accounts for the smell. Looks sort of like a burnt pork chop if you ask me. After twenty straight days of bombing, you won't find a blade of grass or a twig on it. It wasn't that pretty to start with.
Franklin Sousley: So, where do you think they're sending us? Mike Strank: I think it's the desert, Frankllin. Franklin Sousley: Well, that makes no sense at all. Mike Strank: Well, it's just military psychology. They always train you for the desert on a volcano. Franklin Sousley: Aw, now you're just havin' fun with me. Mike Strank: Harlon, take your men right. Watch for Bedouins. Harlon Block: Yes, sir. Franklin Sousley: Hey, what's a Bedouin? Harlon Block: It's a guy with a camel. Franklin Sousley: Well, Jeez Louise, maybe we *are* going to the desert.
Dave Severance: Nobody even noticed that second flag going up. Everybody saw that damn picture and made up their own story about it. But your dad and the others knew what they had done, and what they had not done. All your friends dying, it's hard enough to be called a hero for saving somebody's life. But for putting up a pole?
General "Howlin' Mad" Smith: [on the telephone] I was promised ten days of shelling. You're giving me three and saying that's the best you can do?... I don't give a shit! My men hit that beach with less than ten, and I'll be taking them home to their mamas in buckets!... Yeah, I know exactly why. Because every Navy man with scrambled egg on his chest wants to offload us here and sail to Japan so they can be there for the big finish, tell their kids they captured the Emperor all by themselves. Well, you aren't going to Japan unless we take this piece of shit island! These little pricks are dug in... Okay, appreciate that, Jim. Three days is a fucking beautiful thing.
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