Rene Gagnon

Rene Gagnon

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Rene Gagnon

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Rene Arthur Gagnon (March 7, 1925 – October 12, 1979) was one of the U.S. Marines immortalized by Joe Rosenthal's famous World War II photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

Early life

Gagnon was born March 7, 1925 in Manchester, New Hampshire, the only child of French Canadian immigrants from Sainte-Luce, Quebec, Henri Gagnon and Irène Marcotte. Rene grew up without a father. His parents separated when he was an infant, though they never divorced. When he was old enough, Rene worked alongside his mother at a local shoe factory. He also worked as a bicycle messenger boy for the local Western Union. Rene was drafted in 1943 and elected to join the Marine Corps.

Marine Corps service

On May 6, 1943, he was inducted into the Marine Corps Reserve and sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. From Parris Island, Private First Class Gagnon, promoted on July 16, 1943, was transferred to the Marine Guard Company at Charleston Navy Yard in South Carolina. He remained there for eight months and then joined the Military Police Company of the 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California. Four days later, on April 8, 1944, he was transferred to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment.

After training at Camp Pendleton and in Hawaii, Gagnon landed with his unit on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. Four days later - though with much fighting still ahead - Gagnon participated in what was most likely the most celebrated flag raising in U.S....
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