As their strategy of island hopping brought Allied troops closer to the Japanese mainland



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As their strategy of island hopping brought Allied troops closer to the Japanese mainland,
the small island of Iwo Jima was to become a valuable stronghold from which aircraft
could take off and make emergency landings. Winning the island was a bitter struggle.
As you read, think about the sacrifices made by the marines who fought at Iwo Jima. Then, on a
separate sheet of paper, answer the questions that follow.



The Marines at Iwo Jima

As approximately 70,000 United States


troops prepared for an invasion of the
Japanese-controlled island of Iwo Jima, a
force of more than 20,000Japanese soldiers
had entrenched themselves in the island’s
mountains and built tunnels
throughout the island. As a
result, when the first U.S.
troops began to land on Iwo
Jima on February19, 1945, they
encountered strong resistance
from the Japanese. Defending
themselves against enemy fire
proved difficult as they stormed
the island from the sea.

However, in the coming days marines began to make


progress in their efforts to win the island.
By February 23, they had captured Mount
Suribachi, a tall volcanic mountain that
provided a strategic defensive location
for Japanese troops. Photographer Joseph
Rosenthal took the famous picture of six
American soldiers raising the United
States flag at the top of Mount Suribachi.
This photograph has come to represent
the heroism of the soldiers who fought
at Iwo Jima. After more than a month of
fighting, the United States won the battle
for the island.

The victory came at a significant cost.


Approximately 6,000 were killed in the
battle, while more than 20,000 were
injured. The battle for Iwo Jima became
one of the most costly battles of the war for
the United States. About one-
third of all marines that lost
their lives during World WarII
did so at Iwo Jima. Such signif-
icant loss of American lives at
Iwo Jima and in other similar
battles in the Pacific contrib-
uted to the later decision to
use the atomic bomb rather
than launch an invasion of
mainland Japan.

Despite the costliness of


the fighting at Iwo Jima, the victory did
prove to be a significant one for American
forces. The subsequent use of the island
for carrying out air attacks against Japan,
as well as for landing damaged planes
returning from such attacks, proved espe-
cially valuable. The victory also provided
a rallying point for the American public.
Chester Nimitz, commander of the
United States Navy in the Pacific said of
the soldiers, “Among the men who fought
on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a
common virtue.”



1. Why was it difficult for American forces to
defend themselves against Japanese fire?

2. What event did Joseph Rosenthal
capture in his famous photograph?

3. Summarize Why was Iwo Jima an
important strategic location for the United
States campaign in the Pacific?





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