This article first appeared in the Summer 2006 issue of Impact.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there is much it can’t describe.
Consider the iconic image of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima: It shows American troops hoisting an American flag in bitterly contested Japanese territory, but it doesn’t explain how the men got there. That story involves millions of courageous choices on behalf of freedom — and it includes two unassuming heroes: Greeley and Bobsy Wells.
Greeley was a junior in college when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. Shortly afterward, and despite his marriage to Barbara (Bobsy) the previous June, Greeley decided to join the Marines. Bobsy gave her blessing. They never wavered in their commitment, and after an accelerated college program, Greeley left for war.
And so it was that in February 1945, Greeley Wells adjutant, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, carried the American flag that was first placed on top of Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima’s highest point. When the flag was raised, it became the first U.S. flag to fly on wartime Japanese territory, and a shout went up from the thousands of Marines on the island. The flag was later removed for safekeeping, and when a second flag was hoisted to replace it, the famous photograph of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima was taken.
Greeley wasn’t in that shot, but he’d played his part. At the end of the war, he returned home to Bobsy, who’d supported his call to duty the entire time he was away.
Together, Greeley and Bobsy still fight for freedom through their generous support of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "You are doing what it takes to keep this country together," says Greeley.
We are proud to count Greeley and Bobsy Wells among our friends. They help extend the landscape of freedom, and without them, any picture of the Mackinac Center — or the United States of America — would be incomplete.
Justin W. Marshall is Director of Advancement for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.