Home > Free Essays > Warfare > World War II > Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero
Cite this

Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero Research Paper


Ira Hayes was one of America’s Marine Corps who took part in the Second World War. He was born in Arizona. Ira’s parents practised farming. He was confined to the Reservation, before he was enlisted for the Marine Corps. In the three Pacific battles Ira fought, he displayed a steady character that was a source of admiration to his friends.

He fought to take honour to his family since his chief had insisted that he should become an honourable warrior. It was with full dedication that Ira fought to give meaning to the chief’s words. His childhood at the reservation was normal before the Second World War broke out.

His life changed swiftly after this. He was assigned to parachute battalion after completing a course under the United States Marine Corps Parachutists School. His active participation in Second World War made him part of the American force by 1945. He was fighting the Japanese at the stronghold of Iwo Jima. The US raised America’s flag in 1945 after conquering Iwo Jima that was under Japanese rule. The flag was hoisted at Mount Suribuchi. Ira was one of the six men who participated in raising the flag.

The historical moment was captured by a camera and Ira’s life was transformed. The moment was highly celebrated with a postage stamp and a bronze statue to commemorate the moment. President Roosevelt called the brave warriors who had survived back to United States where Ira was named a hero. However, Ira felt different about the publicity and him being declared a hero. He did not take pride in the commemoration since a substantial number of his colleagues had died in the war (Melton and Dean 56).

This essay will show how Ira participated in the raising of American flag in Iwo Jima Mountain. The impacts of such acts in the history of the Second World War and Japanese control of the Island will be considered. The historical marking of the event after Ira’s flag rising moment through monuments, writings and film creation and their impact will also be discussed.

Ira could not understand why he had to be named a hero, yet his colleagues had died in the War. He felt they did not deserve any form of commemoration. He observed that they did not deserve any adulation since what they had done was not much compared to those who lost their lives.

Ira returned to the reservation after the World War II. His aim was to lead a normal life. His life had dramatically changed and he would get several letters. Some would keep on asking him whether he was the one who raised the flag. His conflict of honour led him to alcoholism. His pain could not be drowned in alcohol. He felt sick and missed his friends who had died in the war. He deeply felt that they were better men than him.

His life never got back to normal. Ira met his death in the year 1955 as a result of exposure. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery section 34. His life was marked with heroism, but he died without marrying. His commemoration in art and music was extensive. This was done before and after his death. He was portrayed in the film Sands of Iwo Jima. In 2006 he got illustrated in the film “Flags of Our Fathers”. The battle of Iwo Jima is highly associated with Hayes due to the role he played in the flag raising.

There are many theories raised to explain the reasons why Ira descended into alcohol after he was declared a hero. Ira is portrayed as a quiet and shy person who was not easy to understand. He was needed in identifying other people in the photograph taken in the mountain. Ordering him back to Washington was a moment he did not enjoy. His life had totally changed and he could not lead the anonymous life that he desired (Melton and Dean 56).

This was a moment that meant a lot to the United States army and the American people at large. It marked the triumph over Japanese. It was part of the victory and supremacy of America in the Second World War. This was later used to stamp authority in areas that United States had interest. The period after the World War II was marked by the flag, with films and other works of art depicting that period.

His unwanted fame after the World War II was captured in the book “The Outsider” that was published by William Bradford Huie four years after his demise. Later on it was discovered that Ira was positive for PSTD. Although his death is considered to have been caused by exposure and poisoning, his brother had a contrary opinion and believed that his death was due to altercation with Setoyant.

The Police Department did not conduct any investigations on the cause of his death. Setoyant denied having fought with Hayes at any moment. In the 1961 film, he is dramatized as having frozen to death on top of Arizona Mountain. In 1993, a commemoration was held to mark the Marine Corps War Memorial (Nash 14).

The marking of the historical moment was of significance to the American people. They largely believed that Ira and other six men showed patriotism by raising the flag.

It was to be understood that the flag symbolized America’s control of the Island. In the history of control of world affairs immediately after the world war, America seemed to have gathered momentum from that day. It was to the interest of the whole country to show its marine power to other nations. The American campaign against countries that looked powerful that time was firmly established after that incidence.

It has been a concern among some of the great historians that the raising of the flag by Ira was a sign of something that the Americans desired. The whole country seemed to appreciate the moment, but for Ira it was more than that. He did not understand why a country would name him a hero, when his friends had died in the war. He did not consider himself a hero. The Japanese side was considerably weakened during that event.

They were left without control of the Island. The preceding days were very memorable and Japan was weakened considerably. It was a turning point and the Second World War took another turn. Few months after Japanese control was taken from the Island, it became clear that the Second World War had lost its meaning and had to come to an end (Hoffman 22).

The countries that had supported Japan in the War surrendered, which acted swiftly in bringing the War to an end. The military might of America was widely acknowledged by the rest of the parties in the War. It was clear that the World War II had made the United States a superpower.

The works of art designed to mark the historical moment were to elaborate how the war was a moment for countries to showcase their military strength. The historical events should have been to remind the country about the effects of war. Ira was not satisfied by a mere hero declaration yet people were dying in the War.

He felt it was a mockery to those who had lost their lives in the War. The unfortunate events of the War indicate that survivors are celebrated while less attention is directed to those who die. Their families bear a lot but that is not put into consideration during the commemorations. Patriotism has always been a cover to make army officers feel that killing in war is justifiable. The commemoration of Ira’s raising of the flag was a very trivial event in the War since there are a lot of significant events that took place before that time.

It should be understood that the event was celebrated by America, but Ira did not seem impressed. The dead should be given a higher class in the classification of heroism since they lost their lives. Losing of lives was an act of heroism. Ira took issues with the fact that the survivors were invited in the white house, while the dead were forgotten. To him, the heroism tag had no meaning bearing in mind that all those who took part in the war could not be equally given credit (Hoffman 129).


The life of Ira Hayes depicts a selfless character devoted to service in the marine. His childhood background shows a quiet person who was shy. Ira’s life took an abrupt change of direction on joining the Marine Corps. The commitment is seen during his service in the marine. His life changed completely upon being awarded the tag of heroism after the raising of the flag.

He looked dissatisfied with the way he was named a hero when the rest of his friends could not make it to Washington. His story gives a side of celebration by the American people, while at the same time he felt that he was not better than his friends who died in the war. His attitude changed and he drowned his contrary thoughts in alcohol.

He could not go back to his normal life since many people sent him letters. His life had lost balance. America benefited greatly from the event since it gained control over the island and Japan was losing balance. This was a different case when it came to the people who had fought in the war. In the world affairs, it has been a lose-win situation whereby many feel that armies are patriots. Survivors have a different story to tell. It is worth noting that the raising of the flag by Ira and his friends was fundamental in the world politics.

Works Cited

Hoffman, Elizabeth Delaney. American Indians and Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2012. Print.

Melton, Brad, and Dean Smith. Arizona Goes to War: The Home Front and the Front Lines During World War II. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2003. Print.

Nash, Gerald. The American West Transformed: The Impact of the Second World War. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. Print.

This research paper on Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

301 certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a citation style:


IvyPanda. (2019, January 5). Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/ira-hayes-the-american-indian-war-hero/

Work Cited

"Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero." IvyPanda, 5 Jan. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/ira-hayes-the-american-indian-war-hero/.

1. IvyPanda. "Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero." January 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ira-hayes-the-american-indian-war-hero/.


IvyPanda. "Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero." January 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ira-hayes-the-american-indian-war-hero/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero." January 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ira-hayes-the-american-indian-war-hero/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Ira Hayes: The American Indian War Hero'. 5 January.

More related papers