John Wayne was more than just an iconic actor known for his gritty cowboy roles. He was also an enthusiastic and loyal patriot. Wayne was always finding ways to show his love and support for our country.
As a special treat during INSP’s “Duke Days of May” John Wayne movie marathon, Wayne’s son Ethan shared some little-known information about his father. INSP shared a video on Instagram featuring several of Wayne’s costumes and awards all centered around his respect for the military.
“This is from before my time but this is from ‘Sands of Iwo Jima,'” said Ethan as he pointed to a costume Wayne wore in the movie. “He played a character named Sergeant Striker.”
Ethan added that Wayne wanted to find more ways to serve his country than just making movies. But several generals told him to keep supporting the military through his depictions in the movies.
“MacArthur and some of the other generals at the time when he was trying to do more service for his country, they said ‘No, absolutely not. Don’t change a thing that you’re doing. You’re the best recruiting tool the armed forces have ever had.’ And they wanted him making those movies and telling those stories about the fighting men over there,” said Ethan.
John Wayne Starred Alongside Real-Life American Heros During This Iconic Scene
“Sands of Iwo Jima,” wasn’t just a significant film for John Wayne. It was also a powerful film for all Americans especially those who served in the military. During the same video, Ethan showed an artifact from the movie that John Wayne kept with him his entire life.
“Here you see something that my father cherished and kept with him his entire life,” said Ethan. “This is sand from Iwo Jima. He received his first Academy Award nomination for the film and got significant recognition from the armed forces. After this film they wanted him to put his boot prints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. And mixed in with the cement for his boot prints they put sand from Iwo Jima in there.”
There is one scene from the movie that is probably one of the most iconic scenes in all of John Wayne’s films. The scene reenacts the famous photo of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, taken on February 23, 1945, by photographer Joe Rosenthal. What makes this scene so iconic is that it actually features the three surviving soldiers seen raising the flag in the photo.
Rene A. Gagnon, Ira H. Hayes and John H. Bradley are all seen with John Wayne as he instructs them to hoist the flag. According to IMDB, the flag used during the scene is the actual flag that was raised on Mount Suribachi. The US Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA loaned the flag to the movie.