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The Mass on Mt Suribachi

After the American flag raising in Iwo Jima, a mass occurred in the top of the Mount Suribachi which encouraged the soldiers to proceed with the battle.

The famous photo entitled Raising the flag on Iwo Jima recorded the moment when the Marines conquered, on February 23, 1945, the volcano summit of Suribachi, the highest point of the island of Iwo Jima. This photo was taken by Joe Rosenthal in the second time the American flag was raised.

But what is not widely known is the deeply Catholic side of bravery which involved the first flag raising.

The book of the Jesuit priest Donald Crosby, Battlefield Chaplains: Catholic Priests in World War II, narrates the exploits of Catholic priests who participated in the Second World War. Among them, Father Crosby tells the story of Jesuit priest Charles F. Suver with 38 years old, belonging to the 5th Marine Division. He was one of 19 chaplains who ministered the sacraments to the three divisions of Marines who participated in the bloodiest battle in the Pacific.

Suver was born in Ellensburg, Washington, in 1907. He graduated in Seattle in 1924, and was ordained priest in 1937. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Navy as a chaplain and was assigned to accompany the soldiers in the battle of Iwo Jima.

One day prior to landing on the island, tension grew between the soldiers who felt death approaching while the ship was getting closer to its destination. They knew they would have to face soon, more than 23,000 Japanese led by one of the most capable generals of Japan. The courage of the Marines would be tested to the maximum.

Some Marines were then, after dinner, to the priest Charles Suver booth to talk about the invasion would occur at dawn. At a certain moment, a young officer said that if he had an American flag, he would bring it until the top of the hill and maybe someone would raise it.

Lieutenant Haynes, challenging the officer responded immediately: “Okay, you take the flag and that I put it up there.” With a holy boldness, Fr. Suver added: “You put it up there and I celebrate a mass under it!”.

Read more at World War

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