Lt. Harold Schrier

(Adopted  from “G” Blog by R.W. Gaines, GnySgt USMC, Ret.)

Schrier1Lt Schrier’s achievements and career ranks right up there with many better known Marine heroes of the Corps, both Old Corps and new.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after Veterans Day in 1936 and completed Boot training, San Diego January 1937  Ordered to China, Schrier served with the American Embassy guard at Peiping, and with units at Tientsin and Shanghai. Returning to the States in August, 1940, he became a drill instructor in San Diego.

With the formation of Marine Raider Battalions in the early months of 1942, Schrier volunteered for that service.  He was assigned to the Second Raider Battalion and embarked with the unit for the Pacific theater in April, 1942. That was the famous “Carlson’s Raiders” commanded by LtCol Evans Carlson.

After the Midway and Guadalcanal campaigns Schrier was commissioned in the field on February 28, 1943, remaining with the 2nd Raider Bn through the New Georgia and Bougainville operations.

Schrier earned the Legion of Merit during the New Georgia campaign, for meritorious conduct while serving with a reconnaissance party on enemy-held Vangunu before the invasion of that island.  He and the party made their way to the island by canoe and spent two days scouting enemy positions and troop concentrations.  When the rest of the group left the island, he remained on it for nine days to signal to the approaching invasion ships and guide troops to the beach.

Schrier2Returning to the States in February 1944, he joined the newly-formed Fifth Marine Division as executive officer of Company “E,” Second Bn, 28th Marine Regiment.  He returned to the Pacific Theater with Easy Company in September 1944. It was on Iwo Jima that then Lt Schrier earned the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as leader of a 40-man patrol which fought its way to the top of Mt. Suribachi on February 23, 1945. 

The patrol had worked warily up the steep northern slope, sometimes resorting to crawling on hands and knees. Japanese who popped out of holes and caves to resist the patrol’s advance were cut down. Lt Schrier directed his men in raising the first American flag to fly over any land in the inner defenses of the Japanese Empire. 

Approximately two hours later, Bn Commander LtCol Chandler Johnston had sent another larger flag to replace the one raised at 10:20 AM so that the Marines who fought so hard and at such cost to capture Suribachi and put the flag on top of the mountain could retain it. Secretary of the Navy James Forrester who watched from a ship offshore as the flag was raised and men cheered and celebrated, wanted to claim the flag as a souvenir to take back to Washington.

Lt Schrier was determined that despite the change in banners, his Marines would keep the Stars and Stripes flying. Having once planted the American flag atop Suribachi, the young officer was determined never to see it come down again, so he devised a plan to take down the old flag, pole and all, as the new flag would simultaneously be raised. This gave Joe Rosenthal, the AP photographer who had just arrived on the scene, the opportunity to capture what would become the most famous war image of all times.

Schrier3Later during the Iwo campaign, Schrier was named commander of Company “D.”   He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in the action on the night of March 24, 1945, during a fanatical Japanese attack. The citation states in part:” Lt Schrier unhesitatingly exposed himself to the onrushing enemy and by his personal example and shouted encouragement rallied his small force and led it to a counter-attack which destroyed many of the enemy and caused the survivors to withdraw in disorder.”

With the outbreak of the Korean fighting, Schrier embarked for Korea with the First Marine Brigade in July, 1950. He was brigade adjutant during the Pusan Perimeter fighting and commanded a company of the Fifth Marine Regiment in the Inchon-Seoul and Chosin Reservoir campaigns. 

In total, Schrier fought in five World War II campaigns (Midway, Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Bougainville, Iwo Jima), and later in Korea in three major campaigns (the Pusan Perimeter, Inchon, and the Chosin Reservoir) during his years of service both as an enlisted man and as an officer

Returning again to the States in March, 1949, Schrier as stationed with the 1st MarDiv at Camp Pendleton.  While there he had additional duties as a technical advisor during the making of the movie,” Sands of Iwo Jima.”  He also played a small part, as himself, in that John Wayne movie.