Members Only Area
Bookmark and Share
sidebar menu icon


BLOCK, HARLON HENRY (1924–1945). Harlon Henry Block, marine, the first of four sons of Edward Frederick and Ada Belle Block, was born on November 6, 1924, at Yorktown, Texas. After graduating from Weslaco High School, he entered the marines, on February 18, 1943, in San Antonio. He completed basic training in San Diego, California, attended parachute training school, and was assigned to the First Marine Parachute Regiment. As a member of this unit he experienced his first combat duty during the Bougainville campaign. He subsequently appeared in one of the most famous battle photographs ever taken: the raising of the flag atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II. After his parachute regiment was disbanded, on February 29, 1944, he was transferred to Company E, Second Battalion, Twenty-eighth Marines, Fifth Marine Division. This company landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. Mount Suribachi, the 550-foot-high extinct volcano on the southern end of the island, was assaulted by the Twenty-eighth Marines on February 20. By mid-morning of February 23 they had reached the top of Suribachi and defeated the last Japanese defenders. Six marines raised a small flag to signal their victory to their fellow soldiers below. Later, a second, larger flag (ninety-six by fifty-six inches) was raised. Corporal Block helped with the second flag by stooping and guiding the base of the pole into the volcanic ash while the other five men heaved the flag upward. As the flag rose Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph. Corporal Block, however, never saw the famous picture. He was killed in action on March 1, 1945, when his unit advanced in the direction of Nishi Ridge. He was buried in the Fifth Marine Division Cemetery near the base of Mount Suribachi; in January 1949 his body was taken home for private burial in Weslaco. In 1995 Block's body was moved from Weslaco to the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima. He is buried beside the Iwo Jima Memorial on the academy grounds.


Bernard C. Nalty, The United States Marines on Iwo Jima (Washington: U.S. Marine Corps, 1967). Richard F. Newcomb, Iwo Jima (New York: Holt, 1965).

David V. Stroud

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

David V. Stroud, "BLOCK, HARLON HENRY," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.