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©1995 J.A. Hitchcock
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Where Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue
The Battle of Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima (which means Sulfur Island) is a most unpleasant island in the Pacific. It boast of jets of green and yellow sulfur gas rising from the ground which gives the whole island the smell of rotten eggs. The islands most famous landmark is Mt. Suribichi, an inactive volcano, which rises 550 feet into the air and was the site of perhaps the most famous battle of World War II in the Pacific. 

It was important to take the volcanic island of Iwo Jima during World War II because of its strategic position in the Pacific Ocean. American bombing raids, originating from the Marianas, needed a place for injured B-29 planes to land.  

Iwo Jima was about halfway for the bombers going on raids to Japan. It was about 775 miles from Iwo to Japan and 650 mile from Iwo to the Marianas. This 1,425 mile American bombing raid could be detected by Japanese forces on the island. The Japanese stationed on Iwo, in turn, would warn the island of Japan of the raids, thereby preventing any secret attacks. Plus, the two airfields on Iwo were used to attack the American bombers, both coming and going. Crippled aircraft were easy prey. 
ORIGINAL PICTURE BEFORE CROPPINGBefore the invasion of Iwo Jima, American forces carried on air and naval bombardment for seventy days. This was the heaviest pre-invasion bombardment of the Pacific war. On February 19, 1945, the Marines attacked the island of Iwo Jima. By February 20, they controlled the southern part of the island, and by February 23, they reached the top of Mount Suribachi.  

On the fifth day of the battle, the Marines were concentrating on the center of the island. Their goal was to capture the part of the island called the "Meat Grinder". By nightfall on March 9, the Marines made it to the northeast beach. When they did they separated the enemy into two groups, instead of one. The attack resulted in many deaths on both sides. 

The Marines knew they controlled the island when they landed a B-29 Bomber on March 4. Final phases were set on March 11, when the American troops made attacks on individual pockets of resistance. 

Finally, on March 26, the Marines declared the island secure. The Marines efforts provided a vital link in the U.S. chain of bomber bases. By the time the war was over, 2,400 B-29 bombers carrying 27,000 crewmen made unscheduled landings on the island of Iwo Jima. 
FINISHED PICTURE AFTER CROPPINGThe battle of Iwo Jima was the first time America used napalm or jellied gasoline. Also white phosphorous, a grayish powdery chemical that burns when it hits the air was used for the first time in battle there. 

The battle for Iwo Jima resulted in 25,851 casualties, including almost 7,000 dead Marines. The Japanese suffered heavy losses, with almost 21,000 dead and 1,000 captives. This is the only major battle where the Marines suffered more losses than they inflicted. 
Be sure to visit the Official Iwo Jima Web Site:

The original photograph is by Joe Rosenthal.  It was later cropped to become the photo we all know. There are six Flag Raisers on the photo, Four in the front line and two in back. The front four are left to right, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley,  John Bradley and Harlon Block. The back two are Michael Strank, behind Sousley, and Rene Gagnon, behind Bradley.
To see more great pictures like the Iwo Jima picture above, go to the WWII web site created by the Hitchcock's.