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
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.
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
|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.