Ira Hamilton Hayes was a Pima Native American and an American Marine who was one of the six men immortalized in the iconic photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II. Hayes was an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community in Sacaton, Arizona, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on August 24, 1942. He trained as a Paramarine and saw action in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. On February 19, 1945, Hayes participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima and fought in the subsequent battle for the island. On February 23, Hayes, together with fellow Marines Rene Gagnon, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley and Mike Strank; and Navy Corpsman John Bradley; raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi, an event photographed by Joe Rosenthal.
As a result of Rosenthal's photograph, Hayes and the others became national heroes in the United States. He was instrumental in confirming the identity of one of his fellow Marines in the photograph, Harlon Block. Hayes was never comfortable with his new-found fame, however, and after his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps he descended into alcoholism. He died of exposure and alcohol poisoning on January 24, 1955, after a night of drinking, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.