MICHAEL STRANK, USMC
Michael Strank, participant in the famous flag raising on Iwo Jima, was born at Conemaugh, Pennsylvania, on 10 November 1919, the son of Vasil and Martha Strank, natives of Czechoslovakia (his father was also known as Charles Strank). He attended the schools of Franklin Borough, Pennsylvania, and graduated from high school in 1937. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps where he remained for 18 months and then became a highway laborer for the state.
Michael Strank enlisted in the regular Marine Corps for four years at Pittsburgh on 6 October 1939. He was assigned to the Recruit Depot at Parris Island where, after completing recruit training in December, Private Strank was transferred to Headquarters Company, Post Troops, at the same base.
Transferred to Provisional Company W at Parris Island on 17 January 1941, Strank, now a private first class, sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arriving on the 23d. Strank was assigned to Headquarters Company, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Brigade (on 1 February, the 1st Marine Brigade was redesignated the 1st Marine Division). On 8 April, now assigned to Company K, he returned to the States and proceeded to Parris Island. In September, Strank moved with the division to New River, North Carolina (now known as Camp Lejeune). He was promoted to corporal on 23 April 1941, and was advanced to sergeant on 26 January 1942.
With the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, early in April 1942, he journeyed cross-country to San Diego, California, from whence he sailed on the 12th. On 31 May, he landed on Uvea, largest of the Wallis Islands.
In September, after a short tenure with the 22d Marines, he was transferred to the 3d Marine Raider Battalion, also at Uvea. With the raiders, he participated in the landing operations and occupation of Pavuvu Island in the Russell Islands from 21 February until 18 March, and in the seizure and occupation of the Empress Augusta Bay area on Bougainville from 1 November until 12 January 1944. On 14 February, he was returned to San Diego for rest and reassignment.
On return from leave, Sergeant Strank was assigned to Company E, 2d Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division. After extensive training at Camp Pendleton and in Hawaii, Strank landed on Iwo Jima on 19 February 1945.
After the fall of Mount Surbachi, he moved northward with his unit. On 1 March, while attacking Japanese positions in northern Iwo Jima, he was fatally wounded by enemy artillery fire. He was buried in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery with the last rites of the Catholic Church. On 13 January 1949, his remains were reinterred in Grave 7179, Section 12, Arlington National Cemetery.
Sergeant Strank was entitled to the following decorations and medals: Purple Heart (awarded posthumously), Presidential Unit Citation with one star (for Iwo Jima), American Defense Service Medal with base clasp (for his service in Cuba before the war), American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars (for Pavuvu, Bougainville, Consolidation of the Northern Solomons, and Iwo Jima), and the World War II Victory Medal.