Iwo Jima Monument Assessment

Marine Corps Depot, Parris Island, SC

The Iwo Jima Monument at the Parris Island Marine Corps Depot was erected in 1952. Designed by Felix de Weldon, it is a third scale model of the famous sculpture depicting five Marines raising the US flag during the World War II battle at Iwo Jima. While the most well-known version of the sculpture in Arlington, Virginia, is cast bronze, this smaller version is cast stone painted to resemble bronze with iron reinforcement.

The monument is in poor condition due to a number of factors related to its material composition and construction methods. A previous conservation assessment established that the cast stone was deteriorating, and that the interior iron armature was likely in poor condition and contributing the failure of the cast stone. We were part of a team of conservators, engineers, and technicians that were contracted to perform an investigation of the armature and provide recommendations for treatment.

As a part of the investigation, a team of radiographers took x-rays of the entire monument. Conservators analyzed x-rays to map the network of iron reinforcement, and to locate areas of heavy corrosion and breaks in the iron. In efforts to document the entire sculpture’s form, 3-D laser scanning was performed. These two technologies were used to gain a better understanding of the conditions and formulate a plan for conservation that would include the treatment of the armature and exterior shell in situ.