Today is the 66th anniversary of the invasion of the sea mount of Iwo Jima.
Let us not forget what those brave men did there.
Members of the 1st Battalion 23rd Marines burrow in the volcanic sand on the beach of Iwo Jima, as their comrades unload supplies and equipment from landing vessels despite the heavy rain of artillery fire from enemy positions in the background.
Of the 3,400 coming ashore with the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division, only 600 were standing when the battle closed.
Iwo Jima was the only Marine battle where the American casualties, 26,000, exceeded the Japanese -- most of the 22,000 defending the island. The 6,800 American servicemen killed doubled the deaths of the Twin-Towers of 9/11.
Iwo Jima is a small speck in the Pacific; it is 4.5 miles long and at its broadest point 2.5 miles wide. Iwo is the Japanese word for sulfur, and the island is indeed full of sulfur. Yellow sulfuric mist routinely rises from cracks of earth, and the island distinctly smells like rotten eggs.
There are six Flag Raisers in the photo. Four in the front line and two in back. The front four are (left to right) Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley and Harlon Block. The back two are Michael Strank (behind Sousley) and Rene Gagnon (behind Bradley). Strank, Block and Sousley would die shortly afterwards. Bradley, Hayes and Gagnon became national heroes within weeks.
The Stars and Stripes over Mount Suribachi after the flag raising.
16 January 2003 -- F-14 Tomcats assigned to the Black Knights of Fighter Squadron One Five Four (VF-154) fly by the memorial on Mt. Elkhart on Iwo Jima Island. The memorial is to the flag raising during Battle of Iwo Jima on top of Mt. Suribachi. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. William F. Evans.
The memorial reads:
"Among the Americans who served on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue." — Nimitz. Dedicated to those who fought here by the Island Command AGF. Erected by the 31st USNCB. Old Glory was raised on this site 23 February 1945 by members of the Second Battalion, 28th Regiment, Fifth Marine Division.
There is a second memorial atop Mount Suribachi in homage to the Marines and Navy corpsmen killed on the island of Iwo Jima . More Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions at Iwo Jima than in any other battle in U.S. history. In 36 days of fighting, there were 25,851 U.S. casualties – 6,825 killed. Virtually all 22,000 Japanese perished.
The Battle of Iwo Jima (February 19 – March 26, 1945), or Operation Detachment, was a battle in which the United States fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Empire of Japan. The U.S. invasion, charged with the mission of capturing the three airfields on Iwo Jima, resulted in some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific Campaign of World War II.
The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified, with a vast network of bunkers, hidden artillery, and 18 km (11 mi) of underground tunnels. The Americans were covered by extensive naval and air support, capable of putting an enormous amount of firepower onto the Japanese positions. The battle was the first American attack on the Japanese Home Islands, and the Imperial soldiers defended their positions tenaciously. Iwo Jima was also the only U.S. Marine battle where the American overall casualties exceeded the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths numbered three times that of Americans. Of the more than 18,000 Japanese soldiers present at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner. The rest were killed or missing and assumed dead. Despite heavy fighting and casualties on both sides, Japanese defeat was assured from the start. The Americans possessed an overwhelming superiority in arms and numbers—this, coupled with the impossibility of Japanese retreat or reinforcement, ensured that there was no plausible scenario in which the United States could have lost the battle.
The battle was immortalized by Joe Rosenthal's photograph of the raising of the U.S. flag on top of the 166 m (545 ft) Mount Suribachi by five Marines and one Navy Corpsman. The photograph records the second flag-raising on the mountain, which took place on the fifth day of the 35-day battle. The picture became the iconic image of the battle and has been heavily reproduced.
The Iwo Jima Memorial, also known as the U. S. Marine Corps War Memorial, honors the Marines who have died defending the United States since 1775. The Iwo Jima Memorial is located near Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.
The 32-foot-high sculpture of the Iwo Jima Memorial was inspired by a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of one of the most historic battles of World War II. Iwo Jima, a small island located 660 miles south of Tokyo, was the last territory that U.S. troops recaptured from the Japanese during World War II. The Iwo Jima Memorial statue depicts the scene of the flag raising by five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman that signaled the successful takeover of the island. The capture of Iwo Jima eventually led to the end of the war in 1945.
The figures of the Marines in the Iwo Jima Memorial statue erect a 60-foot bronze flagpole from which a cloth flag flies 24 hours a day. The base of the memorial is made of rough Swedish granite which is inscribed with the names and dates of every principal member of the U. S. Marine Corps. Also engraved are the words "In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775."