75 years ago today, US Marines raised the American flag over Iwo Jima. Here's the inside story

(CNN)Some say it's the most famous, perfectly composed news photo of all time.

Sunday marks 75 years since Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the iconic photograph of six US Marines raising an American flag over the battle-scarred Japanese island of Iwo Jima.
The image was so inspiring that, by 1945 standards, it went viral. It triggered a wave of national hope that Japanese forces would soon be crushed, and peace was near. It spurred millions of Americans to buy war bonds to keep the nation on solid financial footing. Basically, this simple photo was so powerful it helped win World War II.
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But Rosenthal was just one of several cameramen on the island's Mount Suribachi that day. Their images reveal the entire story behind the famous photo. They provide clues into the anger and ugly rumors over whether the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo was staged.
    Hal Buell, the former executive photo editor of The Associated Press, knew Rosenthal. Buell shared with CNN the inside story surrounding the photo.
    "The most surprising thing to me is ... that even today there are many people who believe that the picture was posed," Buell said. "It still comes up over and over again."

    'Hey, there she goes!'

    On February 23, 1945, Rosenthal, an AP photographer covering the battle for Iwo Jima, had heard Marines were headed up the mountain. He decided to make the climb and see what was going on.
    But Sgt. Louis Lowery, a Marine photographer for Leatherneck magazine, had beat him to it. Lowery was already on the summit snapping photos of Marines proudly raising the American flag.