On February 19, 1945 about 30,000 United States Marines of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions, under V Amphibious Corps, landed on Iwo Jima and a battle for the island commenced. The landing was called Operation Detachment.
Following the American victory, a group of US Marines reached the top of Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 and raised the American flag. They were persuaded to re-enact the event shortly afterwards by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal. The photo later won a Pulitzer Prize and is the subject of the USMC War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
The battle ended on March 16, 1945 but small pockets of Japanese resistance persisted.
"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue" -- Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
Background of the Battle
In the opening days of 1945, Japan faced the prospect of invasion by the Allied Forces. Daily bomber raids from the Marianas hit the mainland in an operation called Scavenger. Fighters and Kamikazi at Iwo Jima provided a measure of defense. Eventually the Allies would have to take Iwo Jima, part of the Japanese homeland for over 600 years. The Japanese were ready. The island was garrisoned by 22,000 soldiers and fortified in a network of underground bunkers.
The defense of Iwo Jima was to exact such a price on Allied Forces as to discourage invasion of the mainland. Each defender was expected to die in defense of the homeland, taking 10 enemy soldiers in the process.
The Allies, led by the United States of America, wanted Iwo Jima not only to neutralize threats to its bombers and shipping, but to use its airfields for fighter escort and emergency bomber landings. On February 16, 1945, they commenced a three-day air and gun assault on the island with unprecedented ferocity, but little effect on the sheltered garrison of Japanese troops.
Invasion of Iwo Jima
At 2 AM on the morning of February 19, battleship guns signaled the commencement of...