Iwo Jima

In the early part of 1945, U.S. military command was involved in a campaign against Japanese controlled islands in the Pacific Ocean, One such Island was Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima was a small volcanic island located 700 miles southeast of Japan and was to become a base for fighter aircraft, as well as an emergency-landing site for bombers.

The first wave of the American forces’ attack was an aerial bombardment that lasted three days. On February 19, 1945 the first of the American forces stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima. The Japanese garrison that was on the island was made up of 22,000 heavily entrenched men. Their commander had been expecting an Allied invasion for months and used the tie he had to construct intricate and deadly underground tunnels, fortifications, and artillery that withstood the heavy American bombardment. During the first day of battle on the island the American troops withstood consistent mortar fire. Despite this, the Americans were able to land 30,000 troops on the beach.

During the next few days , the troops were able to advance inch by inch under the heavy fire of Japanese forces. They were faced with having to deal with the Japanese artillery firing down on them and the suicidal charges by the Japanese infantry. Many of the Japanese forces were underground and it took the American forces using grenades and flamethrowers to deal with them.

On February 23, the top of Mount Suribachi was taken due to the Marines’ continued advance across the island. It was there that a picture was taken that would make history. The American forces raised a smaller flag to signify that they took the island’s highest peak. They switched it out shortly after with a larger flag that could be seen across the island.

By March 3, the U.S. forces had taken control of the airfields on the island and by March 26 the last of the Japanese forces were defeated. Only 200 of the original 22,000 Japanese soldiers were captured alive. More than 6,000 Americans died and 17,000 were wounded. This was a decisive victory for the United States in the Pacific theater. The raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima became a symbol of the enduring spirit of the United States Armed forces during the war.

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