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When Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue

Seventy-seven years ago, Tulsa beat Georgia Tech in the eleventh Orange Bowl. Southern California defeated Tennessee in the thirty-first Rose Bowl. Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city to fluoridate its water, and Pepe LePew made his debut at Warner Bros. The United States had pulled completely out of the Great Depression, and life was looking up for homes and families of America. Or was it?

While the country was in full swing back into normal life, there were other events occurring which would forever alter the future of this country. She was still fighting a long and brutal war with Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. The struggle in Europe was drawing to a close with the Soviet Union tightening the noose in the East while America and the British Empire closed in from the West, however, the fight with the Japanese lingered on with no hope of a swift end. The island-hopping campaign had been moving ever closer to the Japanese mainland. With every step toward Japan, the fighting of the Imperialist Army grew fiercer. As a part of the Bushido Code, the Japanese warrior was committed to defending his nation or die (by combat or suicide) trying. As a result, the casualty rate increased by the thousands for both Americans and Japanese. One of the fiercest campaigns was the Battle of Iwo Jima.

70,000 Marines landed on the “porkchop” shaped, volcanic island February 19, 1945 beginning over a month of brutal warfare. Because the Japanese had been embedded on the island for years, they had developed a system of underground tunnels where they could easily hide and launch unexpected “banzai” attacks on American forces. The fighting was so brutal that for the first time US military planners realized the high cost of taking the home island of Japan through land invasion beginning to make plans for the atomic bomb.