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Ira Hayes’s Birthday, Family, Bio

Title: Ira Hayes: The War Hero from ArizonaIra Hayes, a prominent war hero, was born on January 12, 1923, in Arizona. As a young man, he led an extraordinary life marked by bravery and sacrifice.

This article delves into the life of Ira Hayes, exploring both his early years and his remarkable achievements during World War II. From humble beginnings to the honor of raising the American flag on Iwo Jima, Hayes’ story is one that deserves to be told and remembered.


– Early Life and Family:

– Ira Hayes was born in Sacaton, a small town in the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona. – His parents, Nancy and Joseph, were members of the Pima Native American tribe.

– Growing up, Hayes witnessed the hardships faced by his people due to poverty and limited opportunities. – He lived on the reservation and attended Mission School, where he received a basic education.

– Military Service:

– In August 1942, at the age of 19, Ira Hayes enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. – He completed his basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and was assigned to the 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division.

– Hayes, along with his fellow Marines, underwent rigorous training to prepare for combat in the Pacific Theater of World War II. – Battle of Iwo Jima:

– The Battle of Iwo Jima, which took place from February 19 to March 26, 1945, was a critical part of the Allies’ strategy in the Pacific.

– Hayes participated in the assault and subsequent capture of the island, bravely facing the intense enemy fire. – On February 23, 1945, Hayes and five other Marines raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi, an iconic moment immortalized in Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph.

– Post-War Life and Legacy:

– Following the war, Hayes returned to his community but struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). – Despite the profound impact of his war experience, he actively advocated for the rights and well-being of Native Americans.

– Sadly, Ira Hayes passed away on January 24, 1955, at the young age of 32. – Today, Hayes is remembered for his courage and heroism, and his legacy serves as an inspiration to future generations.

Before Fame

– Early Years:

– Growing up in the Pima Indian Reservation, Hayes faced numerous challenges due to poverty and discrimination. – His family, like many others, relied on farming and working as migrant laborers to make ends meet.

– Despite these hardships, Hayes was dedicated to his education and his community. – Athletics and Joining the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC):

– Hayes excelled in athletics during his high school years, particularly in track and field.

– He had an opportunity to attend Arizona State College on a track scholarship but ended up working for the CCC due to financial constraints. – The CCC provided job opportunities for unemployed young men during the Great Depression, and Hayes embraced the chance to support his family.

– Enlistment in the Marine Corps:

– Ira Hayes enlisted in the Marine Corps after the Pearl Harbor attack, motivated by a strong desire to serve his country. – Hayes’ choice to join the Marines was influenced by the fact that Native American Marines were known for their bravery and resilience.

– He believed that by enlisting, he would not only contribute to the war efforts but also challenge the misconceptions and stereotypes associated with his people. – Training and Preparing for War:

– Hayes underwent intensive training alongside his fellow recruits, enduring physically and mentally demanding exercises.

– His dedication and determination proved invaluable during the harsh conditions of combat. – Hayes’ exceptional marksmanship and discipline earned him recognition among his peers and superiors.


Ira Hayes’ remarkable journey as a war hero and his devotion to his community and country make him an inspiring figure in American history. From his early struggles on the reservation to his unyielding bravery on the battlefields, Hayes led a life characterized by courage and sacrifice.

His legacy continues to inspire countless individuals and serves as a reminder of the profound impact that individuals can have in shaping the world around them.


– Nickname: Ira Hayes earned the nickname “Chief Falling Cloud” due to his Native American heritage and his calm and composed demeanor even in the midst of challenging situations. – Altered Image: The flag-raising photograph taken on Mount Suribachi underwent some controversy and scrutiny.

Initially, it was believed to feature six Marines, including Ira Hayes. However, it was later revealed that another Marine, Harold Schultz, was mistakenly identified as Ira Hayes.

This mix-up highlighted the challenges associated with identifying individuals in such intense and chaotic moments. – Medal of Honor Recipients: Ira Hayes was one of the six Marines who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi, but it is important to note that only three out of the six flag raisers survived the war.

Hayes, along with John Bradley and Rene Gagnon, lived to share their experiences, while the other three, Michael Strank, Harlon Block, and Franklin Sousley, sadly lost their lives during subsequent battles.

Family Life

– Siblings: Ira Hayes came from a large family, being one of twelve children. He had eight sisters and three brothers, each of whom played a significant role in shaping his values and supporting him throughout his life.

– Native American Tradition: Growing up in the Pima Native American community, Hayes was deeply connected to his cultural heritage. He learned the traditions, stories, and customs of his people from his family and community members.

These values instilled in him a sense of respect, honor, and community that guided his actions throughout his life. – Father’s Influence: Ira Hayes’ father, Joseph Hayes, was a respected member of the Pima Tribe and a veteran of World War I.

Joseph’s military service greatly influenced Ira’s decision to join the Marines and serve his country. Joseph’s proud display of his military medals and his stories of valor and sacrifice inspired Ira to follow in his father’s footsteps.

– Post-War Struggles: After returning home from the war, Ira Hayes faced difficulties in adjusting to civilian life. He encountered instances of discrimination and the residual effects of PTSD, which had a significant impact on his mental health.

These challenges were compounded by the weight of survivor’s guilt, as he mourned the loss of his fellow Marines and grappled with his place in a world that felt different from the battlefield. – Advocacy for Native American Rights: Despite his personal struggles, Ira Hayes continued to fight for the rights and welfare of Native Americans.

He became an advocate for better healthcare, education, and employment opportunities for his people. Hayes believed that the sacrifices made by Native American veterans deserved recognition and respect, and he fought tirelessly to improve the conditions faced by Native American communities.

– Legacy and Honors: Ira Hayes’ story has inspired numerous tributes and honors. In 1945, he was awarded the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart for his exceptional bravery during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

He is also remembered through memorials, including a statue erected in Sacaton, Arizona, on the Gila River Reservation. Although Ira Hayes’ life was cut tragically short, his legacy lives on as a symbol of courage, resilience, and the enduring spirit of Native Americans.

From his upbringing in the Pima community to his heroic deeds on the battlefield, Hayes’ story serves as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the profound impact that one individual can have on a nation’s history.

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