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Battle of Iwo Jima

Seventy-six years ago on February 19, 1945 the battle for the island of Iwo Jima began.

It was one of the fiercest battles of the Pacific Theater as our nearly 70,000 Marines faced the full fury of the Japanese military.

America’s military leaders felt that the war would end quicker if we were able to conduct routine bombing missions over Japanese cities. But we needed an ideal location with an airfield from which to do this-Iwo Jima. Located just 760 miles from Tokyo, Iwo Jima was an ideal target for our forces. It was just close enough to the mainland for our B-29 Superfortresses to conduct these raids. It was planned that the Navy would shell the island for at least ten days before sending the Marines onto the beaches. Instead, the Navy only gave them three days of bombardment. Thus, on February 19, the Marine Corps landed on the black sand of Iwo with only a vague conception of what lay before them.

Attacking this island was like attacking the Japanese’ homes, thus they fought more fiercely than ever before making this battle a living hell for the Marines fighting it. What made this campaign especially hard was the complicated maze of tunnels which the Japanese used to hide giving the Marines a false impression of their intentions before overwhelming them with infantry and artillery offensives. Once the Marines landed, hell unleashed, with the Japanese throwing their full wrath upon the Americans. It took four days for the Americans to advance far enough to climb the top of Mount Suribachi. Once the hill was secured, six Marines were sent to the top of the hill to plant an American flag. Joe Rosenthal followed them up the side to try to capture some shots. He ended up taking the most iconic picture of the Second World War. When those Marines raised the flag, the sight of our “Stars and Stripes” flying in the wind gave our boys the boost they