RENE ARTHUR GAGNON, USMCR
Rene Arthur Gagnon, participant in the famous flag raising on Iwo Jima, was born at Manchester, New Hampshire, on 7 March 1926. 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 1943, 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, Maryland, on 7 July.
By September, he was on his way overseas again, this time with the 80th 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 March 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, his remains were reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery on 7 July 1981.