In these photos, Chaplain John Craven is shown baptizing soldiers on Iwo Jima in 1945. Nicknamed “John the Baptist” by fellow Marines in the field, he was a Captain in the Navy’s Chaplain Corps and served with the U.S. Marine Corps units in high-casualty combat operations during both the Second World War and the Korean War. In World War II, Captain Craven was present on combat amphibious landings in the Marshall Islands, Siapan and Tinian. When the famous U.S. flag was raised at Iwo Jima in February 1945, the Chaplain witnessed it.
He participated in the landings at Inchon and the battle for Seoul during the Korean War. He was with the 7th Marine Regiment as they faced off against Chinese forces and retreated during the bitterly cold and bloody retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. From that mission, he survived with severe frostbite.
Captain Craven returned to Iwo Jima in 1995. At the dedication ceremonies for a monument to the American and Japanese who fought there, he led a prayer and embraced an former Japanese army captain turned Buddhist priest. Of the experience, he later wrote: “Before leaving the beach and the spot where our command post had been, I photographed a small green plant with a small red bloom. To me it represented the hopes and dreams for peace rising out of the blood-soaked sands of Iwo Jima.”
He died on April 10, 2001 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.