About René-Arthur Gagnon, Sr.
Rene Arthur Gagnon
Corporal, United States Marine Corps
Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps:
Rene Arthur Gagnon, participant in the famous flag raising on Iwo Jima, was born at Manchester, New Hampshire, on 7 March 1925. He attended the schools of Manchester and completed two years of high school before leaving to take a job with a local textile mill. On 6 May 1943, he was inducted into the Marine Corps Reserve and sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.
From Parris Island, Private First Class Gagnon, promoted on 16 July 1 943, was transferred to the Marine Guard Company at Charleston, South Carolina, Navy Yard. He remained there for eight months and then joined the Military Police Company of the 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton , Oceanside, California. Four days later, on 8 April, he was transferred to Company E, 2d Battalion, 28th Marines.
After training at Camp Pendleton and in Hawaii, Gagnon landed with his unit on Iwo Jima on 19 February. After Iwo Jima was secured, he was ordered to Washington, D.C. arriving on 7 April. Together with the other two survivors of the flag raising, Pharmacist's Mate John Bradley and Private First Class Ira Hayes, he was assigned to temporary duty with the Finance Division, U.S. Treasury Department, for appearances in connection with the Seventh War Loan Drive.
He finished the tour on 5 July and was ordered to San Diego for further transfer overseas. Private First Class Gagnon was married to Miss Pauline Georgette Harnois, of Hooksett, New Hampshire, in Baltimore, Mar yland, on 7 July.
By September, he was on his way overseas again, this time with the 8 0th Replacement Draft. On 7 November 1945, he arrived at Tsingtao, China, where he joined Company E, 2d Battalion, 29th Marines, 6th Marine Division. He later served with the 3d Battalion of the same regiment.
On duty with the U.S. occupation forces in China for nearly five months, Private First Class Gagnon boarded ship at Tsingtao at the end of M arch 1946, and sailed for San Diego, arriving on 20 April.
With nine days short of three years' service in the Marine Corps Reserve, of which 14 months was spent overseas, Gagnon was promoted to corporal and discharged on 27 April 1946. He was entitled to wear the Presidential Unit Citation with one star (for Iwo Jima), the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one star (for Iwo Jima), the World War II Victory Medal, and the China Service Medal.
Corporal Gagnon died on 12 October 1979 in Manchester, New Hampshire , and was buried at Mount Calvary Mausoleum. At his widow's request, Gagnon's remains were reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery on 7 July 1 981.
"In downtown Manchester sits Victory Park. It's in front of the city library, and is bounded by Concord and Amherst Streets north and south, Pine and Chestnut Streets east and west. Just off the center of the park , along a walkway away from the main monument, sits a small monument to Rene Gagnon. It consists of two granite disks and two granite benches. O n one of those disks is a quote from Rene Gagnon: "Do not glorify war. There's nothing glorious about it."
The youngest of the flag-raisers, and the one who actually carried t he flag up Mount Suribachi, Rene Arthur Gagnon was not quite 19 when th e famous photo was taken. He was born at Manchester, New Hampshire, on 7 M arch 1925, the son of Henry Gagnon and Irene Yvonne Gagnon. He attended t he schools of Manchester and completed two years of high school before leaving to take a job with a local textile mill. On 6 May 1943, he was inducted into the Marine Corps Reserve and sent to Marine Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.
Rene was featured on a U.S. postage stamp issued in 1945.
René-Arthur Gagnon, Sr.'s Timeline
March 7, 1925
Manchester, NH, USA
July 7, 1944
Baltimore, MD, USA
October 12, 1979
Manchester, NH, USA
July 7, 1981
Arlington, VA, USA