Washington, D.C. (February 13, 2023): You can see the terror that was Iwo Jima on their faces. In this National Archives photo by Bob Campbell, members of 2nd Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, land on the island seventy-eight years ago. Sadly, the participants of this epic battle have faded into history, but their memory remains in the proud young Marines of today.
U.S. Marines invaded Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, after months of naval and air bombardment. The Japanese defenders were dug into bunkers deep within the volcanic rocks. Approximately 70,000 U.S. Marines and 18,000 Japanese soldiers took part in the battle.
In thirty-six days of fighting, nearly 7,000 U.S. Marines were killed and another 20,000 wounded. Marines captured 216 Japanese soldiers; the rest were killed in action. The island was finally declared secured on March 26th after one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history. After the battle, Iwo Jima served as an emergency landing site for more than 2,200 B-29 bombers, saving the lives of 24,000 U.S. airmen. Securing Iwo Jima prepared the way for the last and largest battle in the Pacific: the invasion of Okinawa.
One of the most iconic images from the war was of Marines raising old glory above Mount Suribachi five days after the battle had begun. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal took the famous photograph of five Marines and one Navy corpsman raising the flag. The flag raisers were Cpl. Harlon Block, Navy Pharmacist’s Mate John Bradley, Cpl. Rene Gagnon, PFC Franklin Sousley, Sgt. Michael Strank, and Cpl. Ira Hayes. Three of these men—Strank, Sousley, and Block—were killed before the battle for Iwo Jima was over. The photograph was quickly wired around the world and reproduced in newspapers across the United States. The image was used as a model for the Marine Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
Significant: Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded for action on Iwo Jima—more than any other battle in U.S. history