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Alan Wood, 90; provided US flag raised on Iwo Jima

US forces raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima, Japan, on Feb. 23, 1945.

Joe Rosenthal/Associated Press

US forces raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima, Japan, on Feb. 23, 1945.

LOS ANGELES — Alan Wood, a World War II veteran credited with providing the flag used in the famous flag-raising on Iwo Jima, has died. He was 90. Mr. Wood died April 18 of natural causes at his Sierra Madre home, his son Steven said Saturday.

Mr. Wood was a 22-year-old Navy officer in charge of communications on a landing ship on Iwo Jima’s shores on Feb. 23, 1945, when a Marine asked him for the biggest flag that he could find.

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After five days of fighting to capture the Japanese-held island, US forces had managed to scale Mount Suribachi and were set to hoist an American flag. Mr. Wood happened to have a 37-square-foot flag he had found months before in a Pearl Harbor Navy depot.

Five Marines and a Navy corpsman later raised that flag in a stirring moment captured by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.

Steven Wood said his father was always humbled by his small role in the historic moment. In a 1945 letter to a Marine general who asked for details about the flag, Mr. Wood wrote: ‘‘The fact that there were men among us who were able to face a situation like Iwo where human life is so cheap, is something to make humble those of us who were so very fortunate not to be called upon to endure such hell.’’

In its story on Mr. Wood’s death, the Los Angeles Times reported that over the years others have claimed that they provided the flag, but retired Marine Colonel Dave Severance, who commanded the company that took Mount Suribachi, said in an interview last week that it was Mr. Wood.

Mr. Wood went on to work as technical artist and spokesman at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, Calif.. His wife, Elizabeth, died in 1985. Besides his son, he leaves three grandchildren.

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