Easter on Recently Captured Iwo Jima

Easter on Recently Captured Iwo Jima

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A chaplain's service for U.S. On March 26, 1945, after 36 days of bloody battle, the United States took control of the strategically important Japanese island.

A Marine captured the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising on film. The original hasn’t been seen in 75 years.

As photographer Joe Rosenthal stood on Mount Suribachi that day, aimed his Speed Graphic at the American flag and froze a moment in history, Marine Corps Sgt. Bill Genaust’s movie camera was already rolling.

Genaust filmed the Marines readying the long pipe to which the flag was attached. He caught them jamming the pipe into the ground. And he filmed the three seconds it took to raise it during the World War II battle of Iwo Jima.

He showed the flag caught in the wind. He showed the Marines piling rocks at the base of the pipe so it would stay up. He showed the grit and reality of the event.

Genaust’s clip also proved to doubters that Rosenthal’s Feb. 23, 1945, picture was not set up. Copies helped the Marines ascertain the identities of the men in the photograph.

But Genaust’s original “in camera” color film has been lost.

Seventy-five years later, all that survive are copies, according to the National Archives. The earliest one dates to 1951, six years after the battle, said Criss Austin, the Archives’ supervisory motion picture preservation specialist.

Absent from history: the black soldiers at Iwo Jima

The portrayal in Clint Eastwood's film, Flags of Our Fathers, of the raising of the US flag on Iwo Jima.

The portrayal in Clint Eastwood's film, Flags of Our Fathers, of the raising of the US flag on Iwo Jima.

On February 19 1945 Thomas McPhatter found himself on a landing craft heading toward the beach on Iwo Jima.

"There were bodies bobbing up all around, all these dead men," said the former US marine, now 83 and living in San Diego. "Then we were crawling on our bellies and moving up the beach. I jumped in a foxhole and there was a young white marine holding his family pictures. He had been hit by shrapnel, he was bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth. It frightened me. The only thing I could do was lie there and repeat the Lord's prayer, over and over and over."

Sadly, Sgt McPhatter's experience is not mirrored in Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood's big-budget, Oscar-tipped film of the battle for the Japanese island. While the battle scene's in the film - which opens today in the US - show scores of young soldiers in combat, none of them are African-American. Yet almost 900 African-American troops took part in the battle of Iwo Jima, including Sgt McPhatter.

The film tells the story of the raising of the stars and stripes over Mount Suribachi at the tip of the island. The moment was captured in a photograph that became a symbol of the US war effort. Eastwood's film follows the marines in the picture, including the Native American Ira Hayes, as they were removed from combat operations to promote the sale of government war bonds.

Mr McPhatter, who went on to serve in Vietnam and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander in the US navy, even had a part in the raising of the flag. "The man who put the first flag up on Iwo Jima got a piece of pipe from me to put the flag up on," he says. That, too, is absent from the film.

"Of all the movies that have been made of Iwo Jima, you never see a black face," said Mr McPhatter. "This is the last straw. I feel like I've been denied, I've been insulted, I've been mistreated. But what can you do? We still have a strong underlying force in my country of rabid racism."

Melton McLaurin, author of the forthcoming The Marines of Montford Point and an accompanying documentary to be released in February, says that there were hundreds of black soldiers on Iwo Jima from the first day of the 35-day battle. Although most of the black marine units were assigned ammunition and supply roles, the chaos of the landing soon undermined the battle plan.

"When they first hit the beach the resistance was so fierce that they weren't shifting ammunition, they were firing their rifles," said Dr McLaurin.

The failure to transfer the active role played by African-Americans at Iwo Jima to the big screen does not surprise him. "One of the marines I interviewed said that the people who were filming newsreel footage on Iwo Jima deliberately turned their cameras away when black folks came by. Blacks are not surprised at all when they see movies set where black troops were engaged and never show on the screen. I would like to say that it was from ignorance but anybody can do research and come up with books about African-Americans in world war two. I think it has to do with box office and what producers of movies think Americans really want to see."

He added: "I want to see these guys get their due. They're just so anxious to have their story told and to have it known."

Roland Durden, another black marine, landed on the beach on the third day. "When we hit the shore we were loaded with ammunition and the Japanese hit us with mortar." Private Durden was soon assigned to burial detail, "burying the dead day in, day out. It seemed like endless days. They treated us like workmen rather than marines."

Mr Durden, too, is wearied but unsurprised at the omissions in Eastwood's film. "We're always left out of the films, from John Wayne on," he said. Mr Durden ascribes to both the conspiracy as well as the cock-up theory of history. "They didn't want blacks to be heroes. This was pre-1945, pre civil rights."

A spokesperson for Warner Bros said: "The film is correct based on the book." The omission was first remarked upon in a review by Fox News columnist Roger Friedman, who noted that the history of black involvement at Iwo Jima was recorded in several books, including Christopher Moore's recent Fighting for America: Black Soldiers - the Unsung Heroes of World War II. "They weren't in the background at all," said Moore.

"The people carrying the ammunition were 90% black, so that's an opportunity to show black soldiers. These are our films and very often they become our history, historical documents." Yvonne Latty, a New York University professor and author of We Were There: Voices of African-American Veterans (2004), wrote to Eastwood and the film's producers pleading with them to include the experience of black soldiers. HarperCollins, the book's publishers, sent the director a copy, but never heard back.

"It would take only a couple of extras and everyone would be happy," she said. "No one's asking for them to be the stars of the movies, but at least show that they were there. This is the way a new generation will think about Iwo Jima. Once again it will be that African-American people did not serve, that we were absent. It's a lie."

The first chapter to James Bradley's book Flags of Our Fathers, which forms the basis of the movie, opens with a quotation from president Harry Truman. "The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know." It would provide a fitting endnote to Eastwood's film.

Rev. Charles F. Suver, 86, Jesuit Priest Who Said Mass On Iwo Jima

The Rev. Charles F. Suver, the Jesuit priest who said Mass atop Mount Suribachi shortly after the historic flag-raising at Iwo Jima during World War II, has died at the age of 86.

Father Suver, born in Ellensburg and educated at Seattle College, now Seattle University, died Easter Sunday from an inoperable brain tumor, SU and Jesuit officials said. He had been residing at the Bessie Burton Sullivan Skilled Nursing Residence on the SU campus since his cancer diagnosis in November.

A liturgy of Christian burial was celebrated yesterday at St. Joseph Church on Capitol Hill. Burial was scheduled for today at Mount St. Michael's Cemetery for Oregon Province Jesuits in Spokane.

A former chaplain at Gonzaga University in Spokane and chaplain at the Park Rose Care Center in Tacoma from 1986 to 1992, Father Suver was well-known throughout Jesuit community, both locally and around the world.

With a reputation as a powerful speaker, he was selected to give one of the homilies, or sermons, for the 50th anniversary of the Jesuits' Oregon Province in 1982. The province covers Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

"He had a profound impact on the Jesuits because of his personal integrity. His word was his bond. He would go the extra mile for you. He was extremely loyal and dependable," said the Rev. John Murphy, senior superior at Jesuit House on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps Father Suver's most famous moment came when, as a

39-year-old Marine Corps chaplain, he and other clergy accompanied the Marines who landed at Iwo Jima in 1945 for the bloodiest battle of World War II in the Pacific.

The Rev. Donald Crosby, a Jesuit priest, recounted in a 1989 article for Company, a Jesuit magazine, how Father Suver had just finished supper with some Marines. One officer declared he was sure he could get an American flag from his landing craft to hoist on top of Mount Suribachi, which dominated the island. Another officer jumped into the conversation and said he was sure that he could get the flag to the top of the mountain.

Father Suver then piped up, "You get it up there and I'll say Mass under it."

On the fifth day of battle with the Japanese, Feb. 23, 1945, the Marines secured the mountain. Father Suver, true to his word, climbed to the top of Mount Suribachi and celebrated Mass beneath Old Glory.

Some 20 exhausted Marines gathered around him, shortly after the victorious flag-raising was captured on film.

Murphy said Father Suver constantly discounted the celebrity status he achieved with his mountaintop Mass. "He said the most extraordinary thing about Iwo Jima was being with his men, watching their heroism under fire and seeing their care for each another," said Murphy.

Father Suver would later write that the conquest of Mount Suribachi paled as a military victory because of the men who were killed on Iwo Jima.

Still he found immense value in his chaplaincy work, tending to the wounded and dying. He wrote his parents, John and Josephine Suver, who were living in Seattle, "Don't worry about me: I am where I want to be and doing the things that I want to do."

More than 22,000 marines were killed or wounded during the fighting on Iwo Jima, from Feb. 19 to March 26, 1945. The Japanese force of 23,000 soldiers was virtually wiped out.

After the war, Father Suver returned to Washington and spent 15 years giving weeklong spiritual renewal sessions in parishes throughout the Northwest and California.

He and the Rev. Frank Toner, another Jesuit priest, did so much traveling on these missions that they wore out a car every year, Murphy said.

From 1971 to 1981, Father Suver did marriage counseling work in Portland, followed by counseling and retreat work in Seattle and Spokane.

He was a leader in the marriage encounter movement, where married couples would come together to renew their marriages spiritually at weekend retreats, according to the Rev. Brad Reynolds, director of communications for the Oregon Province headquartered in Portland.

"He had an incredible wit, a tremendous sense of humor," said Reynolds.

Reynolds said Father Suver had a somewhat crusty exterior, "an old military exterior."

But once you punctured through it, he was a very warm individual, said Reynolds.

"Chuck genuinely loved being a priest - caring for people, especially people who were hurt, who were in spiritual pain," said Reynolds.

"He was this crusty old grandfather figure who at the first sign of pain would wrap his arms around you and comfort you."

Father Suver was born on Sept. 7, 1906.

Father Suver is survived by two cousins, Doris Tobin and George Mead, both of Seattle, and three nephews, Robert Suver of Yakima, John Suver of Spokane and Chet Suver of Seattle.

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Iwo Jima 1945 is a turn based tactic mini game which takes put on the Pacific Theater during the Second Globe War. You are in command of the American Marine force seizing the island of Iwo Jima in February 19th 1945 (Operation Detachment). The object of the mini game is to completely defeat this little and inhospitable island as quickly as possible to both prevent Japanese from using it to detect American bomber fleets, and to provide an emergency landing place for US planes. This little volcanic island has been under massive bombardment for months and American submarines have sunk most of Japanese supplies and reinforcements, so this is going to be the easiest and quickest mission yet! . unless the Japanese have fortified the entire island, dug over 10 miles of tunnels, located army in the thousands of caves, built platforms to move their Artillery underground after firing, and prepared to die to the latest man. A gratis 15-turn ver of Iwo Jima 1945 is accessible at: FEATURES: + Historical accuracy: Campaign mirrors the historical setup. + Long-lasting: Thanks to in-built variation and the game's smart AI technology, each mini game provides a special fight gaming experience. + Competitive: Measure your tactic mini game skills versus others fighting for the Hall of Fame top spots. + Supports casual play: Simple to pick up, leave off, continue later. + Challenging: Crush your opponent quickly and earn the bragging rights on the forum. + Awesome AI: Instead of just attacking on direct line towards the target, the AI enemy balances between strategic goals and smaller tasks like encircling nearby troops. + Smartphone friendly tactic mini game: Automatically scales the map for any physical screen size/resolution from little smartphones to HD tablets, while settings let you to ok tune hexagon and font sizes. In order to be a victorious general in this tactic mini game, you must learn to coordinate your attacks in two methods. First, as adjacent troops give help to an attacking unit, hold your troops in groups in order to gain local superiority. Secondly, it is rarely the best idea to use brute force when it is possible to encircle the opponent and slash off its supply lines instead. Join your fellow tactic gamers in changing the course of the Second Globe War! Privacy Policy (full text on site and apk menu): No acc creation is possible, the made-up username used in the Hall of Fame listings is not tied to any acc and does not have password. Place, private, or device identifier data is not used in any method. In the case of crash the following non-personal data is sent (vie web-form using ACRA library) to let fast fix: Stack trace (code which failed), Name of the Apk, Ver number of the Apk, and Ver number of the Android device OS. The apk only requests the permissions it needs to function. Conflict-Series by Joni Nuutinen has offered highly rated Android-only tactic board mini games since 2011, and even the first scenarios are still actively updated. The campaigns are based on the time-tested gaming mechanics TBS (turn-based tactic) enthusiasts are familiar with from both the classic PC fight mini games and legendary tabletop board mini games. I wish to thank the fanatics for all the well thought-out recommendations over the years which have allowed these campaigns to improve at a much higher rate than what any solo indie developer should dream of. If you have feedback about this board mini game series please use email, this method we can have a constructive back and forth chat without the limits of the store's comment system. In addition, because I have large number of projects on multiple stores, it’s just not sensible to spend handful of hours each day going through hundreds of pages spread all over the Internet to see if there is a question somewhere -- just send me an email and I will receive back to you. Thanks for understanding!

Iwo Jima Veteran Elwood “Woody” Hughes Passes at 95

Elwood “Woody” Hughes, war veteran and witness to events on Iwo Jima, passed away February 2nd aged 95. As a Marine he was present on the Japanese island when American soldiers raised the flag on Mount Suribachi.

Photographer Joe Rosenthal captured an iconic image, winning the Pulitzer Prize. A world famous memorial was placed in Arlington County, Virginia.

According to, Private First Class Hughes had landed on Iwo Jima a day before the stars and stripes found a home on Suribachi. The raising happened just 4 days into the conflict, which lasted 36 days in total.

Hughes’ death is almost the end of an era. Reportedly 2 other ex-servicemen survive. He was one of the last people from the Chicago area to set foot on Iwo Jima. He’d only opened up about the battle relatively recently, in 2019.

In an interview for the American Veterans Center last year, he talked about his background and military career. Hughes was born May 14th on a farm in 1925. His self sufficient situation meant he avoided certain hardships from the Great Depression.

Hughes witnessed the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, which resulted in one of the most famous images ever taken.

His parents were Elwood E. and Eva Mae (nee Roberts) Hughes, as mentioned in his obituary for Glueckert Funeral Home. He also had an older sister, mentioned in his chat to the Veterans Center. Hughes entered the service in 1943, fresh out of Roanoke High School.

Hughes’ first experience of conflict was at the Battle of Saipan, part of the Pacific campaign. His commander was Gen H.M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, “the father of U.S. amphibious warfare” writes

Iwo Jima was eyed as a potential staging post for US forces. Lying 750 miles off the Japanese coast, it contained 3 airfields according to From here, the US figured they could move in on the island before launching an invasion on the mainland.

Unfortunately, an assumption that Japan’s Imperial Army were worn down proved dangerously wrong. The enemy set up camp in the mountains, where they could conceal themselves.

“Howlin’ Mad” Smith led the first attack, up against General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, whose tactics were shockingly effective. The land worked against US Marines – Iwo Jima’s beaches made things challenging to say the least, composed as they were of steep volcanic ash.

Ultimately the Americans took the territory, though at a terrible cost. 7,000 Marines lost their lives, together with over 20,000 Japanese.

Speaking to American Veterans Center, Hughes rejected being called a hero. “I shouldn’t be,” he said “because the heroes never walked off of Iwo Jima”.

He was humble about his role on the island, referring to himself as a “gofer” working at the Command Center. The veteran saw talking about his memories as honoring the dead, rather than putting himself on a pedestal with them.

Interestingly, Hughes worked with Navajo Code Talkers as part of the job. These were Native Americans whose language formed the basis of a secret communication system.

The Battle of Iwo Jima saw the lives of 7,000 Americans taken, with a further 20,000 Japanese. reports on Hughes’ name being added to a flag, alongside fellow survivors of the Battle. The flag then toured the States.

Hughes’ passing comes just days before the 76th anniversary of the Battle (the 23rd). ABC Eyewitness News spoke to his son Bill, who stated his father planned to raise the flag at a local school.

Following his military service, Hughes worked as a basketball coach and a physical education teacher. Glueckert writes that he relocated to Kentucky last year, where Bill is based. He passed away in Lexington.

Woody’s late wife Susan Jane Hughes was by his side for 62 years. He leaves behind children Ellen (Frank) Regalado, Emily Hughes, and William Victor (Teresa) Hughes, as well as 9 grandchildren and no less than 17 great-grandkids.

“He was often remembered for his smile, a story, and a gleam in his eye” his obituary reads.

“He was part of what Tom Brokaw would call ‘’the greatest generation’” said Bill, quoted by ABC.

Iwo Jima Flag Controversy

Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images After an American flag was successfully planted on Mount Suribachi, a larger flag was installed in its place to fuel the fighting troops below.

However, confusion over the two separate flag raisings remained. Some people even came to believe the popular photograph had been staged.

One problem was the account of wartime journalist Lou Lowery, who took a photo of the first flag raising. Lowery had not encountered Rosenthal's group on his way down from the mountain and did not recall seeing Rosenthal. In other words, he was not aware the second flag raising had happened.

Things were further muddled by an unverified TIME radio story on the "Time Views the News" program which reported that "Rosenthal climbed Suribachi after the flag had already been planted. Like most photographers, [he] could not resist reposing his characters in historic fashion."

Rosenthal would go on to spend much of his time defending the photograph's authenticity. Luckily, his account was corroborated by expert researchers. Rosenthal laid out his argument in an interview:

"Had I posed that shot, I would of course have ruined it. I'd have picked fewer men. I would have made them turn their heads so they could be identified [and] nothing like the existing picture would have resulted."

Captured Japanese soldiers, Iwo Jima, 1945 [902 × 614]

Looks like they were getting treated a lot better then the American POW's. Maybe not all of them were treated good because of the resentment the marines harbored but these ones look to be getting some smokes, and that's something.

A lot better than my Grandfather at Bataan.

Looks like they were getting treated a lot better then the American POW's

Certainly while this picture was taken anyway.

Iɽ imagine it's hard to treat people nicely when they were just recently trying to kill you.

Under official Japanese military culture of the time you abused POWs as it was humiliating to surrender to the enemy. This picture shows what nonsense that was. These Japanese soldiers look quite content.

But let's not delude ourselves. Even POW's in American captivity were not, by objective standards, treated well. I fear this picture might propagate that myth. It's not like the American public was enamored by the Japanese or Asian-Americans then.

This is one picture of one moment, in one war.

I know it might not be historically accurate, but this comment reminds me of that scene in ban of brothers where the American captured a bunch of German soldiers and have them smokes and we're mocking them when one of the German soldiers speaks up and turns out to be an American "called back to protect the fatherland". Shortly after they are executed. I'm sure this happened a lot.

As someone has already pointed out, some of that has to do with how the different cultures viewed soldiers who surrendered. I.e. the Japanese considered that a completely unacceptable, despicable act, and that influenced their treatment of allied POWs.

But there's another factor that never gets brought up in discussions like this, and that's the difference in resources available to each side. I.e. the US was never pushed to the economic brink, the way Japan was. It could afford relatively easily to feed, clothe and shelter all the enemy soldiers it took prisoner. On the other hand, by the end of the war, the Japanese were having trouble adequately feeding even their own people and could not supply overseas garrisons and units.

Under such circumstances - well, look at the situation in Andersonville during the American Civil War, that's an example of a POW camp run by people whose attitude towards POWs was not much different from WWII era Americans, and yet the conditions there were brutal.

The Battle of Iwo Jima was the only battle in Marine Corps history where more Marines lost their lives than the enemy. Even still, from Feb. 19 to March 26, 1945, Marines fought and bled to secure a valuable assets for the United State's Pacific Fleet. On the fifth day, a contingent from the 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, climbed Mount Suribachi and raised an American Flag. The photo of five Marines and a Navy corpsman holding the flag became a symbol of hope for the war effort in the Pacific and the Marine Corps. Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to American service members for actions on Iwo Jima. The seizure of Iwo Jima eliminated a strong defense near Japan's mainland, and gave the United States a much-needed resupply point in the advance toward Japan.


After the American capture of the Marshall Islands and the devastating air attacks against the Japanese fortress island of Truk Atoll in the Carolines in January 1944, the Japanese military leaders reevaluated their situation. All indications pointed to an American drive toward the Mariana Islands and the Carolines. To counter such an offensive, the IJA and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) established an inner line of defenses extending generally northward from the Carolines to the Marianas and then to Japan via the Volcano Islands and westward from the Marianas via the Carolines and the Palau Islands to the Philippines.

In March 1944, the Japanese 31st Army, commanded by General Hideyoshi Obata, was activated to garrison this inner line. (Note that a Japanese army was about the size of an American, British Army, or Canadian Army corps. The Japanese Army had many armies, but the US Army had only ten at its peak, with the 4th Army, the 6th Army, the 8th Army, and the 10th Army being in the Pacific Theater. Also, the 10th Army fought on Okinawa only in the spring of 1945.)

The commander of the Japanese garrison on Chichi Jima was placed nominally in command of Army and Navy units in the Volcano Islands. [6] After the American conquest of the Marianas, daily bomber raids from the Marianas hit the mainland as part of Operation Scavenger. Iwo Jima served as an early warning station that radioed reports of incoming bombers back to mainland Japan. That allowed Japanese air defenses to prepare for the arrival of the American bombers. [6]

After the U.S. seized bases in the Marshall Islands in the Battles of Kwajalein and Eniwetok in February 1944, Japanese Army and Navy reinforcements were sent to Iwo Jima: 500 men from the naval base at Yokosuka and 500 from Chichi Jima reached Iwo Jima during March and April 1944. At the same time, with reinforcements arriving from Chichi Jima and the home islands, the army garrison on Iwo Jima reached a strength of more than 5,000 men. [6] The loss of the Marianas during the summer of 1944 greatly increased the importance of the Volcano Islands for the Japanese, who were afraid that the loss of those islands would facilitate American air raids against the Home Islands, disrupt war manufacturing, and severely damage civilian morale. [6]

The final Japanese plans for the defense of the Volcano Islands were overshadowed by several factors:

  1. The navy had already lost almost all of its power, and it could not prevent American landings.
  2. Aircraft losses in 1944 had been so heavy that even if war production were not affected by American air attacks, the combined Japanese air strength was not expected to increase to 3,000 warplanes until March or April 1945.
  3. Those aircraft could not be used from bases in the Home Islands against Iwo Jima because their range was not more than 900 km (560 mi).
  4. The available warplanes had to be hoarded to defend Taiwan and the Japanese Home Islands from any attack. [6]
  5. There was a serious shortage of properly trained and experienced pilots and other aircrew to man the warplanes that Japan had because such large numbers of pilots and crewmen had perished fighting over the Solomon Islands and during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in mid-1944.

In a postwar study, Japanese staff officers described the strategy used in the defense of Iwo Jima in the following terms:

In the light of the above situation, seeing that it was impossible to conduct our air, sea, and ground operations on Iwo Island [Jima] toward ultimate victory, it was decided that to gain time necessary for the preparation of the Homeland defense, our forces should rely solely upon the established defensive equipment in that area, checking the enemy by delaying tactics. Even the suicidal attacks by small groups of our Army and Navy airplanes, the surprise attacks by our submarines, and the actions of parachute units, although effective, could be regarded only as a strategical ruse on our part. It was a most depressing thought that we had no available means left for the exploitation of the strategical opportunities which might from time to time occur in the course of these operations. [17]

At the end of the Battle of Leyte in the Philippines, the Allies were left with a two-month lull in their offensive operations before the planned invasion of Okinawa. Iwo Jima was considered strategically important since it provided an air base for Japanese fighter planes to intercept long-range B-29 Superfortress bombers. In addition, it was used by the Japanese to stage nuisance air attacks on the Mariana Islands from November 1944 to January 1945. The capture of Iwo Jima would eliminate those problems. The base would be available for P-51 Mustang fighters to escort and protect the bombers. [6]

American intelligence sources were confident that Iwo Jima would fall in one week. In light of the optimistic intelligence reports, the decision was made to invade Iwo Jima, and the operation was codenamed Operation Detachment. [6] American forces failed to anticipate that the Japanese would prepare a complex and deep defense, much like on Peleliu in the fall of 1944. So successful was the Japanese preparation that it was discovered after the battle that the hundreds of tons of Allied bombs and thousands of rounds of heavy naval gunfire had left the Japanese defenders almost undamaged and ready to inflict losses on the U.S. Marines.

Japanese preparations Edit

By June 1944, Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi was assigned to command the defense of Iwo Jima. Kuribayashi knew that Japan could not win the battle, but he hoped to inflict massive casualties on the American forces so that the United States and its Australian and British allies would reconsider carrying out their invasion of Japan Home Islands.

While drawing inspiration from the defense in the Battle of Peleliu, Kuribayashi designed a defense that broke with Japanese military doctrine. Rather than establishing his defenses on the beach to face the landings directly, he created strong mutually-supporting defenses in depth by using static and heavy weapons such as heavy machine guns and artillery. Takeichi Nishi's armored tanks were to be used as camouflaged artillery positions. Because the tunnel linking the mountain to the main forces was never completed, Kuribayashi organized the southern area of the island in and around Mount Suribachi as a semi-independent sector, with his main defensive zone built up in the north. The expected American naval and air bombardment further prompted the creation of an extensive system of tunnels that connected the prepared positions so that a pillbox that had been cleared could be reoccupied. This network of bunkers and pillboxes favored the defense. For instance, the Nano Bunker (Southern Area Islands Naval Air HQ), which was east of Airfield Number 2, had enough food, water, and ammunition for the Japanese to hold out for three months. The bunker was 90 feet deep and had tunnels running in various directions. Approximately five hundred 55-gallon drums filled with water, kerosene, and fuel oil for generators were inside the complex. Gasoline-powered generators allowed for radios and lighting to be operated underground. [18]

By 19 February 1945, when the Americans invaded, 18 kilometres (11 mi) of a planned 27 kilometres (17 mi) of tunnel network had been dug. Besides the Nanpo Bunker, there were numerous command centers and barracks that were 75 feet deep. Tunnels allowed for troop movement to go undetected to various defense positions. [19]

Hundreds of hidden artillery and mortar positions along with land mines were placed all over the island. Among the Japanese weapons were 320 mm spigot mortars and a variety of explosive rockets. [20]

Nonetheless, the Japanese supply was inadequate. Troops were supplied 60% of the standard issue of ammunition sufficient for one engagement by one division and food and forage for four months. [21]

Numerous Japanese snipers and camouflaged machine gun positions were also set up. Kuribayashi specially engineered the defenses so that every part of Iwo Jima was subject to Japanese defensive fire. He also received a handful of kamikaze pilots to use against the enemy fleet [ citation needed ] their attacks during the battle killed 318 American sailors. However, against his wishes, Kuribayashi's superiors on Honshu ordered him to erect some beach defenses. [ citation needed ]

American preparations Edit

Well, this will be easy. The Japanese will surrender Iwo Jima without a fight.

Starting on 15 June 1944, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army Air Forces began naval bombardments and air raids against Iwo Jima, which would become the longest and most intense in the Pacific Theater. [23] They would contain a combination of naval artillery shellings and aerial bombings that went on for nine months. On 17 February, the destroyer escort USS Blessman sent Underwater Demolition Team 15 (UDT-15) toward Blue Beach for reconnaissance. The Japanese infantry fired on them, which killed one American diver. On the evening of 18 February, the Blessman was hit by a bomb from a Japanese aircraft, killing 40 sailors, including 15 members of her UDT.

Unaware of Kuribayashi's tunnel defense system, many of the Americans assumed the most of the Japanese garrison had been killed by the constant bombing raids.

Pre-landing bombardment Edit

Maj. Gen. Harry Schmidt, commander of the Marine landing force, requested a 10-day heavy shelling of the island immediately preceding the mid-February amphibious assault. However, Rear Adm. William H. P. Blandy, commander of the Amphibious Support Force (Task Force 52), did not believe such a bombardment would allow him time to replenish his ships' ammunition before the landings he thus refused Schmidt's request. Schmidt then asked for nine days of shelling Blandy again refused and agreed to a three-day bombardment. This decision left much hard feelings among the Marines. After the war, Lieut. Gen. Holland M. "Howlin' Mad" Smith, commander Expeditionary Troops (Task Force 56, which consisted of Schmidt's Fifth Amphibious Corps), bitterly complained that the lack of naval gunfire had cost Marine lives during the entire Allied island campaign. [24]

Each heavy warship was given an area on which to fire that, combined with all the ships, covered the entire island. Each warship fired for approximately six hours before stopping for a certain amount of time. Poor weather on D minus 3 led to uncertain results for that day's bombardment. On D minus 2, the time and care that the Japanese had taken in preparing their artillery positions became clear. When heavy cruiser USS Pensacola got within range of shore batteries, the ship was quickly hit 6 times and suffered 17 crew deaths. Later, 12 small craft attempting to land an underwater demolition team were all struck by Japanese rounds and quickly retired. While aiding these vessels, the destroyer USS Leutze was also hit and suffered 7 crew deaths. On D minus 1, Adm. Blandy's gunners were once again hampered by rain and clouds. Gen. Schmidt summed up his feelings by saying, "We only got about 13 hours worth of fire support during the 34 hours of available daylight." [25]

The limited bombardment had questionable impact on the enemy due to the Japanese being heavily dug-in and fortified. The craters left behind by the barrage also provided additional cover for the defenders, while hampering the attackers' advance. [ original research? ] However, many bunkers and caves were destroyed during the bombing, giving it some limited success. The Japanese had been preparing for this battle since March 1944, which gave them a significant head start. [26] By the time of the landing, about 450 American ships were located off Iwo Jima. The entire battle involved about 60,000 U.S. Marines and several thousand U.S. Navy Seabees. [27]

American order of battle Edit

  • Joint Expeditionary Force (Task Force 51) – Vice Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner in amphibious command ship Eldorado
  • Amphibious Support Force (Task Force 52) – Rear Adm. William H.P. Blandy in amphibious command ship Estes
  • Attack Force (Task Force 53) – Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill in amphibious command ship Auburn

Expeditionary Troops (Task Force 56)
Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, USMC

  • Chief of Staff: Col. Dudley S. Brown, USMC
  • Personnel officer (G-1): Col. Russell N. Jordahl, USMC
  • Intelligence officer (G-2): Col. Edmond J. Buckley, USMC
  • Operations officer (G-3): Col. Kenneth H. Weir, USMC
  • Logistics officer (G-4): Col. George R. Rowan, USMC
  • Chief of Staff: Brig. Gen. William W. Rogers, USMC
  • Personnel officer (G-1): Col. David A. Stafford, USMC
  • Intelligence officer (G-2): Col. Thomas R. Yancey, USA
  • Operations officer (G-3): Col. Edward A. Craig, USMC
  • Logistics officer (G-4): Col. William F. Brown, USMC
    • 8th Marine Field Depot (shore party command): Col. Leland S. Swindler : Col. Vernon E. Megee
    • 62nd Seabees

    Southern sector (Green and Red beaches):

    • 5th Marine Division (25,884 officers and enlisted)
      • Division Commander: Maj. Gen. Keller E. Rockey
      • Assistant Division Commander: Brig. Gen. Leo D. Hermle
      • Chief of Staff: Col. Ray A. Robinson
      • Personnel officer (G-1): Col. John W. Beckett
      • Intelligence officer (G-2): Lt. Col. George A. Roll
      • Operations officer (G-3): Col. James F. Shaw Jr.
      • Logistics officer (G-4): Col. Earl S. Piper
          : Col. Chester B. Graham : Col. Thomas A. Wornham : Col. Harry B. Liversedge : Col. James D. Waller
      • 5th Tank Battalion: Lt. Col. William R. Collins
      • 5th Marine Shore Party Regiment (5th Marine Pioneers and 31st Seabees)
      • Northern sector (Yellow and Blue beaches):

        • 4th Marine Division (24,452 officers and enlisted)
          • Division Commander: Maj. Gen. Clifton B. Cates
          • Assistant Division Commander: Brig. Gen. Franklin A. Hart
          • Chief of Staff: Col. Merton J. Batchelder
          • Personnel officer (G-1): Col. Orin H. Wheeler
          • Intelligence officer (G-2): Lt. Col. Gooderham L. McCormick
          • Operations officer (G-3): Col. Edwin A. Pollock
          • Logistics officer (G-4): Col. Matthew C. Horner
              : Col. Walter W. Wensinger : Col. Walter I. Jordan : Col. John R. Lanigan : Col. Louis G. DeHaven
          • 4TH Marine Pioneers and 133rd Seabees (shore party)
          • Floating reserve (committed to center sector 22 Feb):

            • 3rd Marine Division (19,597 officers and enlisted)
              • Division Commander: Maj. Gen. Graves B. Erskine
              • Assistant Division Commander: Brig. Gen. William A. Worton
              • Chief of Staff: Col. Robert E. Hogaboom
              • Personnel officer (G-1): Maj. Irving R. Kriendler
              • Intelligence officer (G-2): Lt. Col. Howard J. Turton
              • Operations officer (G-3): Col. Arthur H. Butler
              • Logistics officer (G-4): Col. James D. Hittle
                  (Floating reserve): Col. James A. Stuart : Col. Howard N. Kenyon : Col. Hartnoll J. Withers : Lt.Col. Raymond F. Crist Jr.
              • Japanese order of battle Edit

                21,060 total men under arms
                Lieut. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, commanding
                Colonel Tadashi Takaishi, chief of staff

                  • 145th Infantry Regiment
                  • 17th Mixed Infantry Regiment
                  • 26th Tank Regiment
                  • 2nd Mixed Brigade
                  • 125th Anti-Aircraft Defense Unit
                  • 132nd Anti-Aircraft Defense Unit
                  • 141st Anti-Aircraft Defense Unit
                  • 149th Anti-Aircraft Defense Unit

                  Amphibious landing Edit

                  During the night, Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58, a huge carrier force, arrived off Iwo Jima. Also in this flotilla was Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, overall commander for the invasion, in his flagship, the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis. "Howlin' Mad" Smith was once again deeply frustrated that Mitscher's powerful carrier group had been bombing the Japanese home islands instead of softening up the defenses of Iwo Jima. Mitscher's fliers did contribute to the additional surface-ship bombardment that accompanied the formation of the amphibious craft. [31]

                  Unlike the days of the pre-landing bombardment, D-Day dawned clear and bright. [31] At 08:59, one minute ahead of schedule, the first wave of Marines landed on the beaches of the southeastern coast of Iwo Jima. Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. These six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. Connor later stated, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima." [32]

                  Situation on the beaches Edit

                  Unfortunately for the landing force, the planners at Pearl Harbor had completely misjudged the situation that would face Gen. Schmidt's Marines. The beaches had been described as "excellent" and the thrust inland was expected to be "easy." In reality, after crossing the beach, the Marines were faced with 15-foot-high (4.6 m) slopes of soft black volcanic ash. [33] This ash allowed for neither a secure footing nor the construction of foxholes to protect the Marines from hostile fire. However, the ash did help to absorb some of the fragments from Japanese artillery. [34]

                  Marines were trained to move rapidly forward here they could only plod. The weight and amount of equipment was a terrific hindrance and various items were rapidly discarded. First to go was the gas mask . [33]

                  The lack of a vigorous response led the Navy to conclude that their bombardment had suppressed the Japanese defenses and in good order the Marines began deployment to the Iwo Jima beach. [33] Gen. Kuribayashi was far from beaten, however. In the deathly silence, landed US Marines began to slowly inch their way forward inland, oblivious to the danger. After allowing the Americans to pile up men and machinery on the beach for just over an hour, Kuribayashi unleashed the undiminished force of his countermeasures. Shortly after 10:00, everything from machine guns and mortars to heavy artillery began to rain down on the crowded beach, which was quickly transformed into a nightmarish bloodbath. [35]

                  At first it came as a ragged rattle of machine-gun bullets, growing gradually lower and fiercer until at last all the pent-up fury of a hundred hurricanes seemed to be breaking upon the heads of the Americans. Shells screeched and crashed, every hummock spat automatic fire and the very soft soil underfoot erupted underfoot with hundreds of exploding land mines . Marines walking erect crumpled and fell. Concussion lifted them and slammed them down, or tore them apart . [36]

                  Time-Life correspondent Robert Sherrod described it simply as "a nightmare in hell." [37]

                  The Japanese heavy artillery in Mount Suribachi opened their reinforced steel doors to fire, and then closed them immediately to prevent counterfire from the Marines and naval gunners. This made it difficult for American units to destroy a Japanese artillery piece. [34] To make matters worse for the Americans, the bunkers were connected to the elaborate tunnel system so that bunkers that were cleared with flamethrowers and grenades were reoccupied shortly afterwards by Japanese troops moving through the tunnels. This tactic caused many casualties among the Marines, as they walked past the reoccupied bunkers without expecting to suddenly take fresh fire from them. [34]

                  Moving off the beaches Edit

                  Amtracs, unable to do more than uselessly churn the black ash, made no progress up the slopes their Marine passengers had to dismount and slog forward on foot. [38] Men of the Naval Construction Battalions 31 and 133, braving enemy fire, eventually were able to bulldoze roads off the beach. This allowed the Marines and equipment to finally make some progress inland and get off the jam-packed beaches. "Even so, in virtually every shell hole there lay at least one dead Marine . " [39]

                  By 11:30, some Marines had managed to reach the southern tip of Airfield No. 1, whose possession had been one of the (highly unrealistic) original American objectives for the first day. The Marines endured a fanatical 100-man charge by the Japanese, but were able to keep their toehold on Airfield No. 1 as night fell. [39]

                  Crossing the island Edit

                  In the left-most sector, the Americans did manage to achieve one of their objectives for the battle that day. Led by Col. Harry B. "Harry the Horse" Liversedge, the 28th Marines drove across the island at its narrowest width, around 800 metres (870 yd), thereby isolating the Japanese dug in on Mount Suribachi.

                  Action on the right flank Edit

                  The right-most landing area was dominated by Japanese positions at the Quarry. The 25th Marine Regiment undertook a two-pronged attack to silence these guns. Their experience can be summarized by the ordeal of 2nd Lt. Benjamin Roselle, part of a ground team directing naval gunfire:

                  Within a minute a mortar shell exploded among the group . his left foot and ankle hung from his leg, held on by a ribbon of flesh . Within minutes a second round landed near him and fragments tore into his other leg. For nearly an hour he wondered where the next shell would land. He was soon to find out as a shell burst almost on top of him, wounding him for the third time in the shoulder. Almost at once another explosion bounced him several feet into the air and hot shards ripped into both thighs . as he lifted his arm to look at his watch a mortar shell exploded only feet away and blasted the watch from his wrist and tore a large jagged hole in his forearm: "I was beginning to know what it must be like to be crucified," he was later to say. [40]

                  The 25th Marines' 3rd Battalion had landed approximately 900 men in the morning. Japanese resistance at the Quarry was so fierce that by nightfall only 150 Marines were left in fighting condition, an 83.3% casualty rate. [41]

                  By the evening, 30,000 Marines had landed. About 40,000 more would follow. [34] Aboard the command ship Eldorado, "Howlin' Mad" Smith saw the lengthy casualty reports and heard of the slow progress of the ground forces. To the war correspondents covering the operation he confessed, "I don't know who he is, but the Japanese general running this show is one smart bastard." [42]

                  In the days after the landings, the Marines expected the usual Japanese banzai charge during the night. This had been the standard Japanese final defense strategy in previous battles against enemy ground forces in the Pacific, such as during the Battle of Saipan. In those attacks, for which the Marines were prepared, the majority of the Japanese attackers had been killed and the Japanese strength greatly reduced. However, General Kuribayashi had strictly forbidden these "human wave" attacks by the Japanese infantrymen because he considered them to be futile. [34]

                  The fighting on the beachhead at Iwo Jima was very fierce. The advance of the Marines was stalled by numerous defensive positions augmented by artillery pieces. There, the Marines were ambushed by Japanese troops who occasionally sprang out of tunnels. At night, the Japanese left their defenses under cover of darkness to attack American foxholes, but U.S. Navy ships fired star shells to deny them the cover of darkness. On Iwo Jima (and other Japanese held islands), Japanese soldiers who knew English were used to harass and or deceive Marines in order to kill them if they could they would yell "corpsman" pretending to be a wounded Marine, in order to lure in U.S. Navy hospital corpsmen attached to Marine infantry companies. [34]

                  The Marines learned that firearms were relatively ineffective against the Japanese defenders and effectively used flamethrowers and grenades to flush out Japanese troops in the tunnels. One of the technological innovations of the battle, the eight Sherman M4A3R3 medium tanks equipped with a flamethrower ("Ronson" or "Zippo" tanks), proved very effective at clearing Japanese positions. The Shermans were difficult to disable, such that defenders were often compelled to assault them in the open, where they would fall victim to the superior numbers of Marines. [34]

                  Close air support was initially provided by fighters from escort carriers off the coast. This shifted over to the 15th Fighter Group, flying P-51 Mustangs, after they arrived on the island on 6 March. Similarly, illumination rounds (flares) which were used to light up the battlefield at night were initially provided by ships, shifting over later to landing force artillery. Navajo code talkers were part of the American ground communications, along with walkie-talkies and SCR-610 backpack radio sets. [34]

                  After running out of water, food and most supplies, the Japanese troops became desperate toward the end of the battle. Kuribayashi, who had argued against banzai attacks at the start of the battle, realized that defeat was imminent.

                  Marines began to face increasing numbers of nighttime attacks these were only repelled by a combination of machine-gun defensive positions and artillery support. At times, the Marines engaged in hand-to-hand fighting to repel the Japanese attacks. [34] With the landing area secure, more troops and heavy equipment came ashore, and the invasion proceeded north to capture the airfields and the remainder of the island. Most Japanese soldiers fought to the death. [34]

                  Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is a black and white photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal depicting six Marines from E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi on 23 February 1945, [16] which was the second of two flag-raisings on the site that day. The photograph was extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and ultimately came to be regarded as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time. [16] The flag raising picture was later used by Felix de Weldon to sculpt the Marine Corps War Memorial which is located adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery since 1954. [16]

                  Three of the six Marines depicted in the photograph, Sergeant Michael Strank, Corporal Harlon Block, and Private First Class Franklin Sousley, were killed in action days after the flag-raising. Surviving flag-raiser Private First Class Ira Hayes, together with Private First Class Rene Gagnon and Navy hospital corpsman Pharmacist's Mate Second Class John Bradley, became celebrities upon their participation in a war bond selling tour after the battle three subsequent Marine Corps investigations into the identities of the six men in the photograph determined: in 1946 and 1947, that Harlon Block was incorrectly identified as Henry Hansen (both were killed six days after the photo was taken), in May and June 2016, that John Bradley was not in the photograph and Private First Class Harold Schultz was, [43] and in 2019, that Rene Gagnon was not in the photograph and Private First Class Harold Keller was. [44]

                  By the morning of 23 February, Mount Suribachi was effectively cut off above ground from the rest of the island. The Marines knew that the Japanese defenders had an extensive network of below-ground defenses, and that in spite of its isolation above ground, the volcano was still connected to Japanese defenders via the tunnel network. They expected a fierce fight for the summit. Two small patrols from two rifle companies from the 2/28 Marines were sent up the volcano to reconnoiter routes on the mountain's north face. The recon patrols made it to the summit and scrambled down again, reporting any contact to the 2/28 Marines commander, Lieutenant Colonel Chandler W. Johnson. [34]

                  Popular accounts embroidered by the press in the aftermath of the release of the photo of the flag raising, had the Marines fighting all the way up to the summit. Although the Marine riflemen expected an ambush, the larger patrol going up afterwards encountered a few Japanese defenders once on top and after the flag was raised. The majority of the Japanese troops stayed in the tunnel network due to U.S. shelling, only occasionally attacking in small groups, and were generally all killed. Johnson called for a reinforced platoon size patrol from E Company to climb Suribachi and seize and occupy the crest. The patrol commander, 1st Lt. Harold Schrier, was handed the battalion's American flag to be raised on top to signal Suribachi's capture, if they reached the summit. Johnson and the Marines anticipated heavy fighting, but the patrol encountered only a small amount of sniper fire on the way up the mountain. Once the top was secured by Schrier and his men, a length of Japanese water pipe was found there among the wreckage, and the American flag was attached to the pipe and then raised and planted on top of Mount Suribachi which became the first foreign flag to fly on Japanese soil. [45] Photographs of the flag and some of the patrol members around it were taken by Marine photographer Louis R. Lowery, the only photographer who had accompanied Lt. Schrier's patrol up the mountain.

                  As the flag went up, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal had just landed on the beach at the foot of Mount Suribachi and decided that he wanted the flag as a souvenir. Colonel Johnson, the battalion's commander, believed that the flag belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, who had captured that section of the island. In the early afternoon, Johnson sent Pfc. Rene Gagnon, a runner (messenger) from his battalion for E Company, to take a larger flag up the volcano to replace the smaller and less visible flag. The replacement flag was attached to another and heavier section of water pipe and six Marines proceeded to raise it into place as the smaller flag was taken down and delivered to the battalion's headquarters down below. It was during this second flag-raising that Joseph Rosenthal took his exceptionally famous photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. The second flag flew on Mount Suribachi until it was taken down on 14 March, when at the same time an American flag was officially raised up a flagpole during a ceremony at the V Amphibious Corps command post near Mount Suribachi which was ordered by Lt. Gen. Holland Smith the commander of all the troops on Iwo Jima. Major General Graves B. Erskine, the commander of the 3rd Marine Division was also at the event with other troops of the division.

                  Despite Japan's loss of Mount Suribachi on the south end of the island, the Japanese still held strong positions on the north end. The rocky terrain vastly favored defense, even more so than Mount Suribachi, which was much easier to hit with naval artillery fire. Coupled with this, the fortifications constructed by Kuribayashi were more impressive than at the southern end of the island. [46] Remaining under the command of Kuribayashi was the equivalent of eight infantry battalions, a tank regiment, and two artillery and three heavy mortar battalions. There were also about 5,000 gunners and naval infantry. The most arduous task left to the Marines was the overtaking of the Motoyama Plateau with its distinctive Hill 382 and Turkey knob and the area in between referred to as the Amphitheater. This formed the basis of what came to be known as the "meatgrinder". While this was being achieved on the right flank, the left was clearing out Hill 362 with just as much difficulty. The overall objective at this point was to take control of Airfield No. 2 in the center of the island. However, every "penetration seemed to become a disaster" as "units were raked from the flanks, chewed up, and sometimes wiped out. Tanks were destroyed by interlocking fire or were hoisted into the air on the spouting fireballs of buried mines". [47] As a result, the fighting bogged down, with American casualties piling up. Even capturing these points was not a solution to the problem since a previously secured position could be attacked from the rear by the use of the tunnels and hidden pillboxes. As such, it was said that "they could take these heights at will, and then regret it". [48]

                  The Marines nevertheless found ways to prevail under the circumstances. It was observed that during bombardments, the Japanese would hide their guns and themselves in the caves only to reappear when the troops would advance and lay devastating fire on them. The Japanese had over time learned basic American tactics, which was to lay heavy bombardment before an infantry attack. Consequently, General Erskine ordered the 9th Marine Regiment to attack under the cover of darkness with no preliminary barrage. This came to be a resounding success with many Japanese soldiers killed while still asleep. This was a key moment in the capture of Hill 362. [49] It held such importance that the Japanese organized a counterattack the following night. Although Kuribayashi had forbidden the suicide charges familiar with other battles in the Pacific, the commander of the area decided on a banzai charge with the optimistic goal of recapturing Mount Suribachi. On the evening of 8 March, Captain Samaji Inouye and his 1,000 men charged the American lines, inflicting 347 casualties (90 deaths). The Marines counted 784 dead Japanese soldiers the next day. [46] The same day, elements of the 3rd Marine Division reached the northern coast of the island, splitting Kuribayashi's defenses in two. [50] There was also a kamikaze air attack (the only one of the battle) on the ships anchored at sea on 21 February, which resulted in the sinking of the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea, severe damage to USS Saratoga, and slight damage to the escort carrier USS Lunga Point, an LST, and a transport. [49]

                  Although the island was declared secure at 18:00 on 16 March (25 days after the landings), the 5th Marine Division still faced Kuribayashi's stronghold in a gorge 640 m (700 yd) long at the northwestern end of the island. On 21 March, the Marines destroyed the command post in the gorge with four tons of explosives and on 24 March, Marines sealed the remaining caves at the northern tip of the island. [51] However, on the night of 25 March, a 300-man Japanese force launched a final counterattack in the vicinity of Airfield No. 2. Army pilots, Seabees, and Marines of the 5th Pioneer Battalion and 28th Marines fought the Japanese force for up to 90 minutes, suffering heavy casualties (53 killed, 120 wounded). [ citation needed ] Although still a matter of speculation because of conflicting accounts from surviving Japanese veterans, it has been said that Kuribayashi led this final assault, [6] which unlike the loud banzai charge of previous battles, was characterized as a silent attack. If ever proven true, Kuribayashi would have been the highest ranking Japanese officer to have personally led an attack during World War II. [ citation needed ] Additionally, this would also be Kuribayashi's final act, a departure from the normal practice of the commanding Japanese officers committing seppuku behind the lines while the rest perished in the banzai charge, as happened during the battles of Saipan and Okinawa. The island was officially declared secure at 09:00 on 26 March. [ citation needed ]

                  Once the island was officially declared secure, the Army's 147th Infantry Regiment was ostensibly there to act as a garrison force, but they soon found themselves locked in a bitter struggle against thousands of stalwart defenders engaging in a last-ditch guerrilla campaign to harass the Americans. [52] Using well-supplied caves and tunnel systems, the Japanese resisted American advances. For three months, the 147th slogged across the island, using flamethrowers, grenades, and satchel charges to dig out the enemy, killing some 1,602 Japanese soldiers in small unit actions. [53] : 39

                  The United States M2 flamethrower was heavily used in the Pacific. It features two tanks containing fuel and compressed gas respectively, which are combined and ignited to produce a stream of flaming liquid out of the tip. [54]

                  These flamethrowers were used to kill Japanese holed into pillboxes, buildings and caves. A battalion would assign one flamethrower per platoon with one reserve flamethrower in each group. Flamethrower operators were usually in more danger than regular troops as the short range of their weapon required close combat, and the visibility of the flames on the battlefield made them a prominent target for snipers. Still they were essential to breaking the enemy and one battalion commander called the flamethrowing tanks the "best single weapon of the operation." [55]

                  Prior to the Saipan the Marine Corps had left flamethrowing tank development to the Army. They had placed an order with the Army for nine tanks per Division. At Schofield Barracks Col. Unmachts Top secret "Flame Thrower Group" located eight M4A3 Sherman medium tanks to convert for Operation Detachment. His Seabees, from the 117th CB, worked to combine the best elements from three different flame units: the Ronson, the Navy model I and the Navy Mk-1. [57] That first model was quickly superseded by the far better CB-H2. [58] The US Army Chemical Corps variously identified these tanks as POA-CWS-H1, [59] (Pacific Ocean Area-Chemical Warfare Section-Hawaii) CWS-POA-H2, CWS-POA-H1 H2, OR CWS-"75"-H1 H2 mechanized flamethrowers. US Marine and US Army observer documents from Iwo Jima refer to them as the CB-Mk-1 or CB-H1. [60] Marines on the lines simply called them the Mark I. [60] The official USMC designation was "M4 A3R5". [60] The Japanese referred to them as M1 tanks and it is speculated that they did so due to a poor translation of "MH-1". [60] On Iwo Jima the flame tanks all landed D-day and went into action on D+2, sparingly at first. As the battle progressed, portable flame units sustained casualty rates up to 92%, leaving few troops trained to use the weapon. More and more calls came for the Mark-1s to the point that the Marines became dependent upon the tanks and would hold up their assault until a flame tank was available. [55] Since each tank battalion had only four they were not assigned. Rather, they were "pooled" and would dispatch from their respective refueling locations as the battle progressed. Towards the end of the battle, 5th Marine tanks used from 5,000 to 10,000 US gal (19,000 to 38,000 L) per day. [55] The Marines said that the flamethrowing tanks were the single best weapon they had in taking the island and that they were the only thing the Japanese feared.

                  The last of these holdouts on the island, two of Lieutenant Toshihiko Ohno's men, Yamakage Kufuku ( 山蔭光福 , Yamakage Koufuku) and Matsudo Linsoki ( 松戸利喜夫 , Matsudo Rikio) , lasted four years without being caught and finally surrendered on 6 January 1949. [61] [62] [63]

                  Though ultimately victorious, the American victory at Iwo Jima had come at a terrible price. According to the official Navy Department Library website, "The 36-day (Iwo Jima) assault resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead." [64] By comparison, the much larger scale 82-day Battle of Okinawa lasting from early April until mid-June 1945 (involving five U.S. Army and two Marine Corps divisions) resulted in over 62,000 U.S. casualties, of whom over 12,000 were killed or missing. Iwo Jima was also the only U.S. Marine battle where the American casualties exceeded the Japanese, [12] although Japanese combat deaths numbered three times as many as American deaths. Two US Marines were captured during the battle, neither of whom survived their captivity. The USS Bismarck Sea was also lost, the last U.S. aircraft carrier sunk in World War II. [6] Because all civilians had been evacuated, there were no civilian casualties at Iwo Jima, unlike at Saipan and Okinawa. [65]

                  Foreground 3rd USMC Division Cemetery left background is 4th USMC Division Cemetery Iwo Jima.

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