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...The Japanese defense was headed by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, resourceful, resolute, much admired by his men and respected by the Americans. LtCol Justice M. Chambers (Medal of Honor) commanding 3rd Bn, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division, recalled how General Kuribayashi ordered each soldier to kill ten Marines -- "for a while he was beating their quotas."
Lt General Tadamichi Kuribayashi had been assigned to command the garrison of Iwo Jima in May 1944. He had served in the United States as a deputy defence attaché and considered the USA the "last country in the world that Japan should fight." When he arrived he immediately began to reorganise the chaotic defences that were in place and with the arrival of additional troops and Korean labourers began a huge construction programme that included tunnels, caves, gun emplacements, pillboxes, bunkers and command posts, many of which were mutually supporting and linked by a vast underground communications system...Kuribayashi decided he too would adopt these tactics - the Americans would eventually take the islands but he would extract a fearful price. As the geography of Iwo Jima virtually dictated where the Marines would have to land (the only possible landing site being that already described), Kuribayashi set his defences accordingly. In addition, he acted on advice from his Staff Officer, Major Yoshitaka Horie to use the majority of anti-aircraft guns in the ground role as the Americans were bound to have such overwhelming air superiority that any guns that revealed themselves would be quickly destroyed. Many of his Staff Officers seem to have objected to this and used their anti-aircraft guns in both roles and many were put out of action quickly.
On February 15th, the invasion force left Saipan and was soon spotted by Japanese naval patrol aircraft, which alerted the Iwo Jima garrison.
The American landings would take place on a two-mile stretch of beach between Mount Suribachi and the East Boat Basin on the southeast coast. The beaches were divided into seven landing zones, each of 550 yards (503 metres). Moving northeast from Mount Suribachi the beaches and the initial assault forces were:
Green Beach - 1st and 2nd Battalions, 28th Marine Regiment
Red Beach 1 - 2nd Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment
Red Beach 2 - 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment
Yellow Beach 1 - 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment
Yellow Bach 2 - 2nd Battalion, 23rd Regiment
Blue Beach 1 - 1st and 3rd Battalions, 25th Marine Regiment
Blue Beach 2 - None
On March 10th, the three divisions would meet-up on the coast of Iwo Jima almost a week after the first B-29 bomber made an emergency landing on the island on March 4th, 1945. The final operational phase of the battle started on March 11th with fighting focused on eliminating individual pockets of resistance. The island was declared secure on March 26th following another banzai attack against the air corps personnel and soldiers on the beaches. The 147th U.S. Army Infantry regiment would assume ground control of the island from the U.S. Marines on April 4th, 1945. The Battle of Iwo Jima would see the largest body of Marines committed in combat in a single operation during the entire war.
The Battle of Iwo Jima was fought between the United States and Japan between February 19th and March 26th 1945. The battle took place in the Pacific Campaign of World War 2 and finished with the U.S. being victorious and gaining control of both the island and the Japanese airfields located at that location. Although kept quiet at the time, the strategic value of the island would really be as an alternative or emergency landing field for the B-29 bombers that would eventually carry the atom bomb and strike Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In a recently published essay Captain Robert S. Burrell (USMC) asserts that the taking of Iwo Jima in 1945 was unnecessary--something that was known at the time but discounted because of interservice rivalry. "A look into the planning for Iwo Jime," Burrell declares, "demonstrates that the service rivalry resulting from the dual advances of the Navy and the Army in the Pacific negatively influenced the decision to initial Operation Detachment (code name for the Iwo Jima plan)"...That the human cost was atrocious, and that the blood paymaster was for most part the United States Marine Corps, is indeed regrettable. But it cannot be creditably argued that Operation Detachment was a strategic blunder.
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.
3/15/2012 By 1st Lt. Justin Jacobs , Marine Corps Bases Japan
IWO TO, Japan — The Government of Japan and the U.S. Marine Corps conducted a Reunion of Honor ceremony to commemorate the Battle of Iwo Jima March 14. The event took place on Iwo To, formerly known as Iwo Jima, and included U.S. and Japanese veterans and their families, dignitaries and leaders from both nations, distinguished guests and Marines and sailors from III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The 67th Commemoration of the Battle of Iwo Jima provided for a humbling experience. Leaders and representatives of both sides stepped forward to offer remarks and pay their respects to the sacrifices made during the battle.
Iwo Jima, which means sulfur island, was strategically important as an air base for fighter escorts supporting long-range bombing missions against mainland Japan. Because of the distance between mainland Japan and U.S. bases in the Mariana Islands, the capture of Iwo Jima would provide an emergency landing strip for crippled B-29s returning from bombing runs. The seizure of Iwo would allow for sea and air blockades, the ability to conduct intensive air bombardment and to destroy the enemy's air and naval capabilities.
The seizure of Iwo Jima was deemed necessary, but the prize would not come easy. The fighting that took place during the 36-day assault would be immortalized in the words of Commander, Pacific Fleet/Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who said, 'Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.'
As part of that Marine group, 24-year-old Corporal Charles Lindberg, a combat veteran of the Guadalcanal and the Bougainville campaign, watched the intense bombardment of Iwo Jima and realized that the landing at Red Beach One would be anything but easy. "The Japs had the whole beach zeroed in. Most of the fire was coming from Suribachi," he recalled. Surrounding Mount Suribachi were cliffs, tunnels, mines, booby traps, and ravines. The hostile terrain proved to be as tough an enemy as the Japanese who were firmly entrenched on the mountain.