John Calvin Hixon was a World War II Navy veteran who credited Jesus Christ for preserving his life throughout his military service. He was on the USS Carteret for the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and on the USS Barnes for the Battle of Tarawa. “He missed the bus for boot camp in San Diego, which prevented him from serving on an aircraft carrier that was later sunk by the enemy.” He was protected through “every battle”, from “every bullet that missed his ‘skull by inches,’” and from “a downed Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat fighter jet that nearly hit him.” He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Hixon was manning the carbine rifle on the USS Carteret and taking fire as US troops took the Suribachi beachhead and raised the American flag. The moment was captured by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945, and later won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography. It is considered “one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war.”
In an interview with the Victor Valley Daily Press, Hixon recalled: “On the fourth day of the battle, we put up the second flag because the first one was too small. But when our guys saw that second flag go up, a sense of pride flowed through our troops because it was a sign that we were winning.”
He participated in the Library of Congress Veterans History project.
Hixon was a native of Oklahoma (born February 19, 1925) and eventually settled in California, where he passed away on December 18, 2017. He was a retired plumber and enjoyed playing guitar in several country music bands over the span of his lifetime. His last performance was in November 2017 at the Victorville Old Town Route 66 Historic Society reception following the Veterans Parade in Victorville.
He was married twice; after his first wife, Marian Murdock, passed away in 1977, he married Mildred Zimmerman, and she passed away in 2007.