World War II-dated ALS signed "Ira H. Hayes," two pages, 8 x 10, July 14, 1945. Letter to his parents and brothers, in full: “Good evening dear folks. I ain’t got anything to do just now so I’m writing to you. I hope you are all O.K. But please do not worry about me I’m all right & can take care of myself in any situation. I pray to God, He is keeping watch over Leonard where ever he is. And to be with him, protect him, comfort him, & watch over him, as He has done for me. I know that Leonard will take God as his Leader & follow him. And he will not be afraid to face the future. I know what kind of a guy Leonard is & know what’s deep in his heart. I don’t know if I ever mentioned this to you, but when I joined the Corps I started to pray, maybe 4 times or 3 times a week. But when I went over the first time I prayed every night, & the second time over here before we went to Iwo I done likewise. On Iwo I was always praying so was many others, some for the first time. My prayers were with me and comforted me, gave me the courage to face the next day. I never ask God to spare my life. I’d say if it is by His will that I see another morning I would be thankful for it. But if it is the other way & God’s will, well I will be ready as I have been ready a long time ago. I never felt His nearness to me as I did on that damn island. Prayers are always heard & I’ll keep on praying as I have never did before. Well folks I don’t know much more to write. Thanks for sending that letter to me. I received my seabag from D.d & everything was in order. I’ll close here till next time.” Hayes signs his name in the lower left corner of both pages, "Cpl. Ira H. Hayes." In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope, postmarked October 8, 1945, U.S. Navy, addressed in his own hand by Hayes, who adds his signature in the return address field, "Cpl. Ira H. Hayes U.S.M.C." Also accompanied by an ALS from his mother, Nancy Hayes, forwarding her son's letter, with original mailing envelope, as well as an FDC signed in ink by General Alexander Vandegrift, and a mailing envelope signed in ink by photographer Joe Rosenthal.
Four-and-a-half months earlier, on February 23, 1945, six United States Marines raised a US flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Famously captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal, the moment would become a symbol of the American war effort in the Pacific theater, and perhaps the most iconic image of World War II. Along with other surviving Iwo Jima flag-raisers Rene Gagnon and John Bradley, Hayes was ordered to participate in the 7th War Bond Drive. The trio toured the nation with the tattered American flag they helped raise, but Hayes, who struggled with alcoholism, left the tour a month early and was sent back to his former combat unit based in Hawaii. Given his premature death at the age of 32, Hayes remains scarce across all signed formats, with this being the first handwritten letter we have ever offered.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.