In the annals of time and history, Sergeant Michael Strank of the United States Marine Corps will forever be known as one of the six men who raised “the flag” on top of Mount Suribachi during the World War II battle of Iwo Jima.
With the 1/400th of a second shutter flash from the camera of Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, Strank and his military brethren Corporal Harlon Block, Private First Class Franklin Sousley, Private First Class Ira Hayes, Marine PFC Harold Keller, and Marine CPL Harold Schultz became household names.
The photograph gave hope and became a symbol of support and endurance for the United States war effort. With one click, Rosenthal captured a lasting image of Sgt. Strank, a Marines’ Marine, a beloved leader of men who vowed to do anything in his power to bring his soldiers home. To truly understand the life of Michael Strank, we must look past the photograph.
The story of this American hero, oddly enough, begins in Jarabina, Czechoslovakia where he was born Mychal Strenk on November 10, 1919; ironically the 144th anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps. Mychal lived in a one room house with a dirt floor with his father Vasil, mother Martha, and extended family. Vasil, chasing the famed American dream, immigrated to the United States in 1920, changing his last name to Strank in the process.
Vasil settled in the Pennsylvania mining and steel working town of Franklin Borough, just east of Johnstown. Working for Bethlehem Steel, Vasil labored in the Cambria County mines for three years until he could afford to send for Martha and Mychal. Finally, in early 1922, Mychal and his mother were able to join Vasil in America.
The first ten years in America would be a trans-formative time for both the Strank family and Mychal. Mychal, renamed Mike, who was soon joined by two younger brothers, Jon and Pete, as well as a younger sister named Mary. Vasil was able to afford a two-room rental apartment for his growing family, seen as a castle by Martha when compared to their living arrangements in Czechoslovakia. Though the blast furnaces ran 24 hours a day and coal dust added a permanent black haze to the town, the Stranks saw Franklin Borough as a place for their children to grow and their lives to improve.
Vasil worked nights and slept during the days but stayed optimistic and saw each day as progress. Above all, the head of the Strank family loved his children, and he guided over them with a system of discipline from the Old World. The basis of which is engrained in the Marine Corps values of training: equal discipline. When one child (Marine) committed an offense, all children (the Marine’s unit) were punished. Vasil unknowingly began preparing Mike for his time in the Marine Corps by instilling in him the value of shared responsibility; the Marines’ Marine was beginning to take shape.
As the Strank family began to gain a foothold in the borough, Michael Strank’s personal transformation from a boy to a young man was unfolding. Already with a rigid sense of discipline and duty, Strank approached all things with passion and resolve. He was as fervent about the Catholic faith as he was eager to learn the English language and customs. When he began first grade, he knew no English but became fluent in it within the year. He quickly learned to play the French horn and even hit a home run out of Johnstown’s Point Stadium. He saved his brother John from a nearly fatal mining accident and calmed his younger brothers during the Johnstown Flood of 1936. He was a tutor, mentor, brother and friend. That was Mike.
The Strank family was flourishing now, renting out a five-room duplex while living in one of their own. Vasil and Martha had truly achieved the American dream; then the Great Depression found Western Pennsylvania. Wages were low, workers were striking, and Vasil lost his job. Sadly for a gifted boy like Mike, college was now out of the question.
Mike was looking for work and found it in one of the many programs created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. In 1937, Mike joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a governmental organization that worked on projects ranging from roads to national parks. For 18 months he worked across the country in places such as Arizona before eventually coming back to Pennsylvania to work on highways. Much like Vasil’s system at home, the CCC exposed Mike to a military-like regimen complete with camp life, discipline, and comradery. Though denied an extension with the program, the CCC had turned Mike from a 140 pound boy into a strapping 180 pound man. A man, full of passion and the desire to do what was right, had only one place to turn.
The year was 1939 and Hitler’s Nazi Germany was on a war path through Eastern Europe, including Mike’s home country of Czechoslovakia. Mike, hearing of the atrocities committed by the Nazis, had no choice but to act. The young immigrant joined the Marines. Though an American citizen due to his father’s citizenship, Mike was still considered Czech and could have avoided World War II completely, but that wasn’t who Mike was.
On October 6, 1939 in Pittsburgh, Mike enlisted and became the only one of the 6 flag raisers to join the armed forces before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was shipped to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp and excelled. He continued to be a leader, except now it wasn’t John or Pete he was leading, but other marines.
Private First Class Michael Strank was next shipped to Guantanamo Bay where he and his fellow Marines practiced amphibious assaults on Caribbean islands, much like the island assaults that Marines would be doing a year later in the Pacific. By the time the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, Strank was back in South Carolina training new Marines and becoming a Sergeant in the process.
In March of 1942, Mike returned home for a short time where his family easily identified the mental and physical changes he had experienced. Sergeant Michael Strank had become the prototype Marine: tough, driven, and determined. Three months later Mike was called into combat, not to his war-torn homeland, but to the small islands that pockmarked the Pacific, islands now ruled by the unpredictable Empire of Japan.
The Marine Raiders were known as the toughest group of soldiers in the Pacific theater of war. The men you would send into the worse environments to complete the toughest of missions. Being outnumbered and behind enemy lines was typical for this unit. Sgt. Mike Strank was a Marine Raider. By now, Mike was 6 foot and closing in on two hundred pounds of pure muscle. He was a charismatic leader who used his intelligence in all facets of Marine life.
Mike loved the Raiders for their style of fighting as well as their focus on brotherhood and shared responsibility. He got his feet wet in assaults on the islands of Uvea and Pavuvu where the Marine Raiders met little resistance. Then Mike landed on the Island of Bougainville. Bougainville was a key stop for the island-hopping strategy of the Allied Forces. Not only were the Japanese hostile on Bougainville, but so was the terrain. Deadly insects, torrential downpours, and sacred skull shrines were just a few of the many troubles encountered by the Marines there. As one Marine stated, Bougainville is, “the closest thing to hell that I ever saw in my life.”
Sgt. Strank landed on Bougainville on D-Day, November 1, 1943, with 14,000 other Marines. There he saw the gruesome deaths of his fellow Marines on an unimaginable scale. The men he would lead into battle were being cut down to his left and right; falling, crawling, bleeding, and dying. The Pacific Ocean around Bougainville was dyed red by an enemy they could not see. Dense jungle and concrete bunkers masked the faces of those slaughtering these young Americans.
Even when the beach was secure, the killing continued. As the Americans pursued the Japanese into the jungle, more and more fell beside Sgt. Strank. American intelligence had greatly under-appreciated the Japanese force, and they were paying for it with the lives of Marines. Mike fought for two months on the bloody island of Bougainville, until the campaign came to an end. Bougainville changed Michael Strank forever, he aged years in a matter of months, and now fully understood what the true price for freedom was: death. The death of the men he served under, the death of the men he led, and eventually, Sgt. Strank came to realize, his own death as well.
Strank, weakened by malaria and battle, returned to Franklin Borough on a short leave. His sister Mary remembers Mike using this time to rest and recuperate, refusing neighbors request to talk about war, and instead staying in with his family on most days. One night, two friends took Mike out on the town where they saw a movie about the war. When asked what he thought about it, Mike quietly stated, “It isn’t really like that.”
At the end of the night, Mike said goodbye to his friends for what he believed would be the last time, revealing that he didn’t think he would be coming back from war. Sgt. Mike Strank was sure his next battle would be his last. Though convinced of his impending demise, Mike never tried to prevent his self-conceived fate.
Vasil, his father, wanted Mike to request a training assignment in the states so he could be closer to the family. Even with the horrors of Bougainville branded in his mind, Mike refused. “Dad there’s a war going on out there. Young boys are fighting that war. And Dad – they need my help.” A Marines’ Marine, a veteran of three Island invasions, would lead his men into battle whatever his fate may be. Before leaving, Mike urged his sister to keep using the English language with her parents and to keep writing letters to him; even if she never got any in return.
Sgt. Strank left Franklin Borough for the West Coast and reassignment, never to see home again. Mike, along with the five other flag raisers, was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division stationed at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Camp Pendleton was large, desolate, and unforgiving. In other words, the perfect place to mold Marines into the fighting form needed to defeat Japan. Training was nothing but intense. Mike and his fellow Marines drilled with weapons and boats, ran and hiked with full equipment, and even fought wildfires.
Through it all the Marines created a brotherhood, echoed in their motto of Semper Fidelis, meaning always faithful, faithful to their cause, country, and most importantly each other. Through training, Mike emerged as a leader who his men both respected and liked. As one Marine stated, “Everybody liked Mike. He was a born leader, a natural leader, and a leader by example.”
Harlon, Ira, Franklin all loved him… “He had a real concern for us, he was a big brother to us. We were young boys and he would assure us. “He would say, ‘I want to bring as many of you back home to your mothers as possible.’” Mike led by example, but it was his use of humor that really calmed the men around him. He wrote funny poems about camp life, held seances, and joked about his humble beginnings. He gave pills (pieces of chocolate) to his men for pick-me-ups, drank with them on weekends, and commanded them again once Monday rolled around.
He was known to be one of the best squad leaders in Easy Company while running one of the best firing teams in the regiment. Officers respected him while privates wanted to be him. Michael Strank was the perfect man to lead Marines on the next big mission; the assault of “Island X.” Island X was a term used liberally in the Marine Corps as codename for an island they were planning on attacking.
While the true destination of Island X was classified and only known by a select few, enlisted men made guesses as to where their next destination might be. Some believed it was “the big one,” the invasion of mainland Japan. Others predicted another stop on a small Pacific island that would be inconsequential if not for it being occupied by Japanese soldiers. For most, it did not matter. Marine training was regimented to fit the specifics needed to take Island X.
The training was harsh and repetitive, but essential for the mission at hand. It began at Camp Pendleton and continued after the Marines shipped out of San Diego and landed in Hawaii. Predictably, the Marines did not experience the palm trees and lush beaches that they dreamed of, instead, they experienced Camp Tarawa. Camp Tarawa was full of lava rocks, rigid cliffs, and knife sharp ridges. It shared similar terrain with Island X, making it the perfect spot to train Marines. They would drill maneuvers day after day until they could be performed in one’s sleep, or even better, under heavy enemy fire. Marines spent over four months at Camp Tarawa until they shipped off to Honolulu for one final liberty before battle.
On liberty, Mike was able to meet up and reminisce with some old buddies from his former Marine Raiders unit. Then in late January, Mike, Harlon, Ira, Franklin, Rene, and Doc boarded the USS Missoula to depart for the mission they have been training for. The flag raisers finally learned the identity of Island X, a small Pacific island called Iwo Jima, an island these six men will be intrinsically linked to for the rest of time.
Iwo Jima, which translates to “Sulfur Island,” was a forsaken and sinister place. At its southwestern tip sits Mount Suribachi, an inactive volcano whose eruptions built the island. Rocks, ridges, and black sand grow to the North and East of the mountain, resembling a charred pork chop to the men who photographed it from above. It seemed void of any life but the soldiers occupying it and as one Japanese soldier poetically called it, “A place no sparrow sings.”
Though seeming unimportant, Iwo Jima was a critical island to control for both the Unites States and Japan. For the Unites States, it was strategically significant for many reasons. It contained a number of airfields that the Japanese used to launch attacks from. If captured, American pilots could use the airfields to both launch attacks as well as to make emergency landings. Bombing runs that were headed to the Japanese mainland flew right over Iwo Jima, so capturing the island would give clear skies for American pilots.
The Japanese saw the significance of Iwo Jima from a more emotional standpoint. Up to this time, the opposing forces were warring over islands that the Japanese captured at the start of the war. Iwo Jima, however, has always been part of the Japanese Empire and the Japanese were determined to defend it as if it was an attack on Tokyo. Almost unknowingly, Mike, Easy Company, and the rest of the Marines were beginning the direct invasion of Japan.
The 28th Marine Regiment, including Mike and the rest of the flag raisers, had a special mission to accomplish when they hit the beaches of Iwo Jima. They would land on “Green Beach,” the closest beach to Mount Suribachi, and be tasked with cutting the volcano off from the rest of the island. The elevation of Suribachi made it the most strategically significant formation on the island and it was the goal of the Marines to capture it as quickly as possible.
The men of Easy Company knew the dangers involved in taking the well defended Suribachi, and relied on the leadership of men like Michael Strank to prepare them for the onslaught. The Marines had a years’ worth of training, but most would be new to combat. Again, Strank’s calming presence and use of humor relaxed his men and put them in better spirits. They loved the way his helmet was cocked to one side and the jokes he told in dialect from the old country. Most of all, they wholeheartedly believed that Sgt. Mike Strank would do anything in his power to get them home. Mike cared for his men, and used his rank as Sergeant to protect and watch over them.
In fact, weeks before the battle, Mike was offered the rank of Platoon Sergeant, a position that would get him further out of harm’s way. Mike immediately turned down the promotion; he promised his boys he would be there for them. While Mike was optimistic regarding the survival of his men, he became grim in nature regarding his own demise. The night before the Marines landed on the black beaches of Iwo Jima, Mike once again admitted his impending death, this time to a nearby Marine. “I’m not coming back from this one.”
Since December of 1944, Allied forces bombed Iwo Jima to hell and back. Three days before the attack, the U.S. Navy intermittently bombed the black island as well. Many believed that the bombing did the trick and that all Marines would encounter would be small groups of Japanese soldiers surrounded by their dead comrades. They were wrong.
The Japanese, commanded by their leader General Kuribayashi, began building tunnels. For months, the island defenders built a series of linked tunnels that connected the island underneath the rock and sand. Entrances turned into concreate bunkers and hidden pillboxes. The Japanese were essentially untouched by the bombing. The aerial photographs captured none of this. The Marines were going in blind.
On February 19, 1945, Marines hit the beaches of Iwo Jima. The first wave of Marines, ultimately including Mike and Easy Company, encountered no opposition. For an hour, men and machines poured onto the beach creating a crowded condition in the compact space. The Americans bogged down their own landing zone and General Kuribayashi, awaiting this opportunity, gave the command to attack.
The barren island of Iwo Jima came alive. Machine guns, mortars, and heavy artillery opened up on the condensed Marines creating death at every turn. The dormant volcano Suribachi erupted once more, but instead of flowing hot lava it projected hot lead. The tunnels and bunkers concealed Japanese movements from the Marines, leaving no true target to shoot at but the flash of a barrel. This was a Marine’s worst nightmare.
Mike and his platoon landed north of their destination and had to rendezvous with Easy Company in the midst of the massacre. As men were either running, hiding, or dying, a strange sight appeared to the men of Strank’s squad. “There was Mike, sitting upright, emptying the sand out of his boots. Just as if nothing was happening.” Mike Strank was a combat veteran, he understood the importance of cleaning out your boots. He also understood the keys to moving under fire.
Mike led his men back to the rendezvous point, moving between the squad members and making sure they were spread out. Eventually they reached Easy Company and the actions of Sgt. Strank easily saved many lives that day. However, it didn’t make him feel any better about his own. “This is my third campaign,” Strank told a Marine he was sharing a foxhole with, “and I’m not going to make it through this one.” The beachhead was finally secure. For Mike and Easy Company, the next three days would be spent cutting off Suribachi from the rest of the island while facing its fury head on.
On D-Day +1, Mike, Harlon, Ira, and Franklin moved behind the cover of an American tank to rescue wounded Marines. Casualties mounted, heroes died, and Mike and the flag raisers moved forward. On D-Day +2, battered Marines relied on their training at Camp Pendleton and Camp Tarawa to move forward through death and destruction. They slowly zig-zagged their way toward the base of the mountain suffering astronomical casualties along the way.
When the taking of the mountain seemed imminent, a large group of Japanese soldiers exited Suribachi with the intent of performing a banzai (suicidal) charge towards Easy Company. After being fired upon by American fighter planes, it was Sgt. Strank who first stood up from cover and proclaimed, “Let’s show these bastards what a real banzai is like! Easy Company, charge!” Casualties mounted, heroes died, and Mike and the flag raisers moved forward. On D-Day +3, Suribachi was surrounded. Japanese soldiers would attempt to escape the mountain, only to meet a quick death. They realized what the Marine command realized, Suribachi had fallen, and it was time to climb.
At 10:20 a.m. on February 23, 1945, the American Flag was hoisted on top of Mount Suribachi; the first flag that is. After a four man patrol climbed to the top of the mountain unharmed, a forty man platoon from Easy Company (not Mike’s) cautiously made their way to the brim of the dormant volcano.
Encountering little resistance, the platoon of Marines found a pole, tied an American flag to it, and raised it. The sight brought sweeping emotion across the Marines both on the mountain and at its base below. Men were cheering, ships were blasting their horns, and the Japanese understood Suribachi belonged to the Marines. A picture of the event was taken, the Marines in it were heroes, and it could have been their photograph hung on every wall in America. But it wasn’t.The Secretary of the Navy wanted the Suribachi flag as a souvenir, a decision that sent Mike and the flag raisers on a crash course with destiny.
The flag was planted by Marines, so in the eyes of Easy Company’s commander, the battalion were the ones who deserved to keep it. The search for a replacement flag was on until they found one that had been pulled from a sinking ship at Pearl Harbor. The flag was handed to Rene Gagnon who was told to join Mike Strank’s squad, who had been ordered to run telephone line to the top of the mountain.
Mike, Harlon, Ira, Franklin, and Rene slowly began their ascent up Suribachi with the orders to take down the original flag and put up the replacement. When they reached the peak, Mike told the commanding officer that they were to take the original flag down and run the replacement flag up high, “So every son of a bitch on this whole cruddy island can see it!” They found a clear spot and Harlon began creating a base for the flag while Ira and Franklin searched for a pole.
Meanwhile, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal reached the top of the mountain with the knowledge that he missed the original flag raising. He was content with taking pictures of the view from the top of Mount Suribachi, until he saw Mike’s squad preparing to raise the replacement flag. By now they had the pole and Mike unfurled the flag and attached it, still holding it in his hand so it would not touch the ground or flutter in the wind.
With Harlon at its base and Mike, Franklin, and Ira behind him; the men began to raise the flag. Mike saw John “Doc” Bradley and called for help. The Navy Corpsman, as well as Rene Gagnon, joined in behind Harlon and pushed forward. As the pole moved to a more upright position Mike let go of the flag, Rosethal took a picture, and a second later the replacement flag was waving over Mount Suribachi. There was no cheer or blasting of horns and there was a good chance that not every son of the bitch on the cruddy Island could see it. But thanks to the 1/400th of a second shutter flash from the camera of Joe Rosethal, soon the whole world would.
The fame and popularity of the photograph and the Marines pictured in it spread like wildfire once it reached the states, but Michael Strank would not live long enough to ever find this out. After staying near the mountain for five more days, Easy Company’s regiment was ordered to move north to relieve a battered regiment of Marine brethren.The night before moving out, Mike Strank once again predicted his demise to a fellow Marine. On the following day, his prophecy became true.
On March 1, 1945, in the shadows of Suribachi, Strank led his men over bloody ground to a rocky outcropping that protected them from Japanese fire. As he prepared to draw a plan in the sand, a plan that would get his men out of danger and one step closer to home, a shell exploded. The impact took Sergeant Michael Strank in the chest, killing him instantly and ripping out his heart that once beat for his men, his cause, and his country.
The shell did not come from the enemy, though, as the only unprotected side of the outcropping faced towards the ocean; where American destroyers were anchored. The Japanese could not kill Michael Strank, but his own country could.
Michael Strank was the American dream personified, the immigrant turned dutiful Marine who led his brothers as a child like he led his brothers in arms as a young man. The boy from a steel town who used humor, courage, and calming presence to gain the respect of all who served with him. Michael Strank was a Marine’s Marine, a larger than life hero, and he was dead at the age of 24.
The Battle of Iwo Jima raged on, claiming the lives of two more flag raisers in the process; Harlon Block and Franklin Sousley. Meanwhile, the impact of Mike Strank’s death was being felt at home. When a Western Union man with a yellow slip of paper appeared at the Strank’s door in Franklin Borough, their world was turned upside down.
With her son Pete in the Navy and Mike in the Marines, Martha expected the worse. She was too emotional to read it, pleading with the Western Union man to read it aloud. He finally consented, against company policies, and delivered the news of Mike’s death to his mother. Her hair turned white within a couple months; it was as black as Pennsylvania coal before she learned of her son’s death.
Returning home from a memorial service for Mike, the Strank’s first heard of Mike’s place in the iconic flag raising image. Friends, neighbors, and media surrounded their home and asked them questions about their fallen American hero. Home from the war, the three surviving flag raisers were tasked with selling war bonds required to pay for the final invasion of Japan.
Ira Hayes, John Bradley, and Rene Gagnon were celebrities as they traveled the country, denying rumors of the photo being staged or the fact that the flag was planted under an intense battle. They denied their heroics, claiming the heroes of Iwo Jima died on the island. They put on smiles, said a few key phrases, and did their best to hide their pain while selling bonds. Martha Strank was able to come aboard on some stops on the bond drive to represent her fallen son. With Vasil too saddened by Mike’s death to attend, Martha and her son John traveled to New York City. When Ira Hayes saw Martha, he hugged her tight and broke down. As Martha would learn, Ira loved and respected Mike, like all Marines who knew her son.
Even when the war came to an end, the Strank’s were still affected by its repercussions. Pete returned home a shell of his former self, having survived the fiery explosion of his naval ship caused by a Japanese kamikaze pilot. His nerves were gone and he acted erratically, suffering from the horrors he witnessed at war. As his brother John came to say, “I lost two brothers in the Pacific war.”
In 1947, Mike’s body, which was buried in the black sands of Iwo Jima, was brought home for a proper burial. The Marine’s Marine was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, a place fitting for a man like Michael Strank. The service was attended by his entire immediate family.
Visitors, from everyday people to the likes of President Truman, came to Franklin Borough years after the war, to ask questions about Mike or to pay their respects to the Stranks. The last major event that the Strank’s attended was the unveiling of the Iwo Jima Memorial on November 10, 1954; the shared birthdays of Sergeant Michael Strank and the Marine Corps.
The memorial was a bronze statue of the Rosenthal photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. The Strank’s saw the depiction of Mike, huddled behind Franklin Sousley, guiding his soldier’s hand along the flag pole; a lasting image of a consummate leader. Pictures were taken, goodbyes were said, and the six families brought together by the 1/400th of a second shutter flash went their separate ways.
On the Iwo Jima Memorial there is no mention of the six men who raised the flag. Even the photographer, Joe Rosenthal, receives no recognition. The bronze figures have no identity. Only one inscription boldly appears on the statue, and it reads, “UNCOMMON VALOR WAS A COMMON VIRTUE.”
During the Battle of Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue among Marines fighting there. But the heroic acts on Iwo Jima are just one example of the patriotism so commonly found in the World War II generation. The men who landed on the beaches in Normandy or the pilots who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed incredibly bravery.
Valor was ever present on the home front as well as factories altered production to make canteens, rifles, boots, and other war supplies. Car companies began making military vehicles as everyday citizen’s rationed food and provisions so there would be more for the soldiers overseas. Women rose to new heights in the workplace as minorities contributed greatly both at work and at war. The nation was immersed in the war effort at every level. It is often asked how an entire generation of Americans was able to come together at a time of heightened danger and vulnerability. For that answer, one must look at their past.
The World War II generation are products of The Great Depression. Men and woman who above all else learned the art of survival. Many had little money, scraps for food, and no place to sleep. Children found work at young ages and took on adult roles because there was no adult around to fill them. They lived day by day, relying on one another, because that’s all they could do.
So when World War II began, the American people reacted instinctually. They worked for each other, fought for each other, and died for each other. The World War II generation became the resilient force that they had been during The Great Depression. Maybe it is not so surprising after all, then, that American’s like Michael Strank showed such uncommon valor when the country need it the most.
The lasting image of the flag raising on Iwo Jima is one that will reverberate through the sands of time. It has become one of the most reproduced photographs in history as its lasting appeal has transcended generations. The photograph, and subsequent memorial, has become a rallying cry for every Marine that has ever worn the uniform.
The American people look to it as a sign of strength and perseverance even in the darkest of hours. The men in the photograph, Mike, Harlon, Ira, Franklin, Doc, and Rene will forever be linked to that moment in time. But for those who died on Iwo Jima, like Michael Strank, the flag raising was just another part of the mission.
Mary, Mike’s sister, is convinced that her brother, like the surviving flag raisers, would have been uncomfortable with the attention paid to him. “He wouldn’t have wanted the fame,” Mary has said. “He would have said he was just doing his job.” Job well done then, Sergeant Strank, job well done.