This is a thoughtful glimpse into the life experiences of one of the soldiers who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, an act that thrust him, reluctant though he may have been, into the spotlight. Ira Hayes was a quiet lad who lived with his family in a one-room house on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Sacaton, Arizona. When he was sent to a government boarding school for Native Americans, Ira felt out of place and lonely. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Ira joined the Marine Corps and there he felt at home among his buddies. Ira, proud to be a Marine, was an honorable warrior and fought in the battle of Iwo Jima. After a small American flag was planted on the top of Mount Suribachi, a Marine Commander sent up a group of men to put up a bigger flag. Ira was one of those men. When Ira returned home, he found that the photo of the flag raising had made him a hero. Ira was never comfortable with the attention and turned to drink to cope with the loneliness he felt after leaving the company of his Marine comrades. He died about ten years later and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Hayes, one of the Marines who struggled to thrust an American flag into a hill on Iwo Jima, became famous as a result of Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer Prize-winning photo. This illustrated biography gives context to a shy man who "never wanted to be a hero," tracking his childhood on a Pima Indian reservation, his experiences at an Indian boarding school, his military action in the Pacific, his deep depression following his return home, and his death at age 32. The author glosses over the less savory details of Hayes's later years, but acknowledges his growing problems with alcoholism. The writing is clear and avoids fictionalized thoughts or dialogue. Soft, well-composed acrylic paintings support the text. Nelson cleverly obscures the faces of the soldiers in battle, emphasizing their anonymity, conveying the fact that any one of them could have been in Hayes's position, and underscoring his struggle to accept attention that he believed to be undeserved ("-the soldiers who died on Iwo Jima and in other battles were the real heroes"). An author's note provides additional details and photographs. This book will prove a satisfying read for those in search of background on the iconic photograph, families looking for a patriotic story, and students seeking material on minority Americans.-Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Object of a hit song, a 1961 film and studies for adults, but not a separate profile for younger readers, Ira Hayes was less a "true American hero," as Nelson argues, than a tragic figure incapable of handling the fame that was thrust upon him. A shy, lonely lad raised on Arizona's Gila River Indian Reservation, Hayes found his place serving as "an honorable warrior" in the Pacific battlefield and was one of the WWII marines captured in the famous Iwo Jima photograph. He returned to the States a celebrity, took to drink to help deal with his feelings of isolation and died an alcoholic less than ten years later. Nelson tells the tale twice-once in simple language, accompanying dappled acrylic views of a bronze-skinned lad with downcast eyes, posing in and out of uniform, and again at the end in smaller type, with photos and more background detail. Hayes's life adds yet another sad chapter to the history of this country's treatment of Native Americans, but other than his courage as a soldier, this gives children no particular reason to admire, or even care particularly, about him. (source list) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)