Joe Rosenthal's photo of Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima is one of the most famous and patriotic images of the 20th century. The picture never would have happened without Alan Wood, the then 22 year old Navy officer provided the flag that day on Mt. Suribachi.
Wood passed away at his home on April 18 at the age of 90.
The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest and most hard fought battles in World War II. By its end close to 7,000 Americans would be dead along with an estimated 20,000 Japanese.
Once they were able to capture Mt. Suribachi the Marines wanted to plant the biggest flag possible on top of the 500 foot mountain. Wood happened to have a 37 square foot flag that he had found in a Navy depot at Pearl Harbor that would work nicely.
Although many others would go on to claim that they provided the flag in the iconic photo over the years the actual man who provided it preferred to not make a fuss over it.
"He didn't talk much about it," Wood's son Steven said. "He didn't draw attention to himself. He was just there when someone needed a flag and he gave it to them."
In 1945 Wood wrote a letter to a Marine general describing the significance of Iwo Jima.
"The fact that there were men among us who were able to face a situation like Iwo where human life is so cheap, is something to make humble those of us who were so very fortunate not to be called upon to endure any such hell," Wood said.
After the war Wood spent fifty years working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a technical artist and remained active his entire life according to the Los Angeles Times.