Iwo Jima Hero

PFC Franklin R. Sousley

Historical marker #855 in Flemingsburg (Fleming County) honors PFC Franklin Runyon Sousley, who served in the Marine Corps during World War II and was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Franklin R. Sousley was born in Hilltop, Kentucky, which is located just outside of Flemingsburg, on September 19, 1925. He attended Fleming County High School and graduated in 1943. Following graduation, Sousley relocated to Dayton, Ohio to work with the Frigidaire Division of General Motors.

Sousley entered the Marine Corps Reserve on January 5, 1944, through the Selective Service System and was sent to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego for bootcamp. After completing training, he was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines of the 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, as an automatic rifleman. In September 1944, the company sailed for Hilo, Hawaii. In November, he was promoted to private first class. After extensive training, Sousley and his company sailed for Iwo Jima where they landed on February 19, 1945.

Sousley survived the battle of Suribachi and went on to be one of the flag raisers on Mount Suribachi, which was immortalized in the photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press. He was killed during the fighting around Kitano Point. He was the last of the flag raisers to die on Iwo Jima. Private First Class Sousley was buried in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery at Iwo Jima in Plot 8, Row 7, Grave 2189. On March 22, 1948, his mother request his remains be returned to the United States for re-interment in the Elizaville, Kentucky Cemetery.

Sousley received a Purple Heart posthumously, as well as a Presidential Unit Citation with one star for his actions at Iwo Jima, an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one star for his actions at Iwo Jima, and a World War II Victory Medal. Camp Sousley in Flemingsburg is named in his honor, where there is also a Franklin Sousley Museum on the premises.

This marker was erected in 1965. It reads:

PFC Franklin Runyon Sousley USMCR. One of six of 28th Reg. 5th Marine Div. who raised flag on Suribachi 23 Feb. 1945. Immortalized in Joe Rosenthal's famed AP photograph. Sousley born Fleming County, 1925. Joined Marines, Jan. 1944. Landed on Iwo Jima 19 Feb. 1945, survived Suribachi, but killed month later. Reinterred, 1948, on hillside S.E. Purple Heart, 3 other medals. Over.

(Reverse) Photograph of men raising flag on Suribachi. Caption under photograph reads: Uncommon valor was a common virtue.