Harlon Block was a hero on his high school football team: the Weslaco Panthers. Known as a natural athlete and an outgoing daredevil, he could run…
In fact, he led his team to the conference championship in 1943, where he was honored as “All South Texas End.”
But winning the championship was not the high point of 1943 for the Panthers. That came when every senior on the team went to the local Marine recruiting station and, as a group, enlisted… together.
They didn’t stay together long. After a stint as a paratrooper, Harlon was shipped to Iwo Jima, where he served bravely and was killed by a mortar blast on March 1, 1945.
On February 25, however—just a few days before he died—the Pulitzer prize-winning photograph of Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima appeared in the Weslaco paper.
Pointing to the figure on the far right, Harlon’s mother Ada Belle said, “That’s Harlon.” On the paper, though, the figure was identified as someone else—a Harry Hansen from Boston.
No one could convince Ada Belle she was mistaken. She repeated, “I know my boy.”
Her boy would be killed before he had a chance to see the photo himself and confirm what his mother knew… and no one else believed.
But eighteen months later, a Congressional investigation revealed that it was indeed Harlon… and that his mother was right all along.
It was “her boy” guiding the flag pole into the volcanic ash of Mount Suribachi as the other men raised it upward.