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The battle of Iwo Jima was fought between the United States and the Empire of Japan. The invasion of the U.S, otherwise known as "Operation Detachment", happened because of the U.S. wanting to take over the airfield in Iwo Jima. With this airfield the Japanese provided a base for escort planes on their raids with the B29s. Iwo Jima's location was crucial to the United States because it was between Tokyo and the American bomber bases in the Marianas. This was yet another reason why they sparked the battle of Iwo Jima.
The Commander of Iwo Jima was General Kuribayashi. He was known throughout Japan as "a genius". His strategy was unique because the Japanese fought the entire battle from underneath the ground. They dug 1,500 rooms through rock which were connected through 16 miles of tunnels. The Japanese also did not plan on surviving. In fact, they found that if they died during battle, it was an honor towards Japan.
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Iwo Jima took the longest attack when it came to aerial attacks of the war. In fact, one Admiral even had this to say, "No other island received as much preliminary pounding as did Iwo Jima." And even though the Americans fought long and hard over Iwo Jima, it had little effect. Hardly any of the Japanese underground fortresses were destroyed. 21,000 Japanese soldiers were underground prepared for battle against American soldiers if they should come. The Americans sent more Marines to Iwo Jima than to any other battle. They sent over 110,000 Marines in 880 ships. Actually, It was the largest armada invasion up to that time in the Pacific War.
When the American soldiers decided to go for a land attack, it would prove to be one of the most memorable and infamous attacks in U.S. War history. On February 19, 1945 the battle known as D-Day came into action. After about an hour of guns being fired left and right, Iwo Jima was left smoking as if the entire island was on fire. The battle was not over yet, as 110 bombers sailed through the sky to drop bombs on the island once again. After the planes were finished and gone, the guns were pulled out once more and the battle on land started up again.
Around 8:30 AM, the order, "Land the Landing Force," was sent out and in came the first Marines to the shores of the Island. Once they reached the shores the Marines were troubled. There was a major problem. Because of it being such a small island, the volcanic ash was everywhere. This made it impossible to dig trenches successfully and therefore the marines were targets for the Japanese guns. The landing beaches were utter chaos, as the Japanese fired from hidden locations and the great vantage points on Mt. Suribachi, the volcano that made up the island. Because of the preparations of the Japanese it was almost impossible to be out of range of their guns, and this made for a tough 36 days for the marines. The firing of the guns was so heavy that it made it almost impossible for them to land men in a clean manner. The soldiers were definitely in a daze. 100,000 men fought this battle for thirty-six days. From Mount Suribachi Japanese gunners had a clear shot at every inch of the landing beach. They had plenty of blockhouses and pillboxes, full of weapons. Making them more than ready to shoot down the attacking American soldiers. They used machine guns, anti-tank and anti-boat guns, as-well as rockets. Every Marines, everywhere on the island was at clear shot of the Japanese. The Marines were unprepared for the conditions on the beach, the Japanese were ready. The marines on Iwo Jima rarely saw a Japanese soldier. Since the Marines fought above the ground, and the Japanese soldiers fought from below the ground. Liquid gas, napalm and hand grenades were actually found to be more useful against the Japanese.
On February 23, the marines officially took Mount Suribachi, and the most famous photograph in America's military history was taken of the Flag Raising on Suribachi. Though, most consider that the end of the battle and the point at which the US won the battle, it raged on for another 32 days until March 16. When it was all said and done, over 21,000 Japanese were dead defending their island, and about 6800 US soldiers were dead, 6000 of which were marines battling to seize the island.
The three surviving members of the Iwo Jima flag-raising were sent back to America, while the war was still going on. They were sent across the East Coast, and told to do their duty in an entirely different way; this time, the army wanted them to help push U.S. bonds. The soldiers did what they were told and the American Citizens looked at them as true heroes! This provided the U.S. with enough money to keep the planes flying to continue the battle in Iwo JIma. But the whole spectacle seemed to weigh more heavily on one of the three - a Pima Indian - than on the others. He didnt see himself as a hero as everyone else did. Actually, he saw himself as just another Marine who was just doing what his Commander asked of him. As I mentioned in the beginning of this paper, no one is truly the same after returning from a war. This Pima Indian was not the same either. Not long after returning from the war, did the poor man drink himself to death. In all honesty, the Japanese knew that they had no fighting chance against the U.S. The smart thing would have been to forget the island and try to go for peace. Of course, that was out of the question. What fighting man wants to be deemed a coward?
We do admire those marines who fought in the battle of Iwo Jima, both those who fought and returned, and those who fought and did not return. Since the Japanese were not willing to surrender, the soldiers had to go one-by-one, neutralizing each hidden burrow. War historians say that it was like "throwing human flesh against reinforced concrete."
Over one fourth of the Medals of Honor given to Marines in World War II were given for serving in the battle against Iwo Jima. 27, to be exact. Which is the most ever given to soldiers in a single battle. And Iwo Jima proved useful almost immediately as an airbase and for disabled bombers to make emergency landings on the way back from Japan. Whether that was worth almost 7,000 dead men and 26,000 casualties is another thing. Only around ten missions were ever flown from Iwo Jima. So, the battle was almost unnecessary.