The Battle of Iwo Jima



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The Battle of Iwo Jima

Aftermath


Of the over 21,000 Japanese soldiers, 20,703 died and 216 were captured during the battle. The Allied forces suffered 27,909 casualties, with 6,825 killed in action. The number of American casualties was greater than the total Allied casualties on D-Day (estimated at 10,000, compared with 125,847 American casualties during the entire Battle of Normandy).[6] Iwo Jima was also the only U.S. Marine battle where the American casualties exceeded the Japanese.[7] Because all the civilians had been evacuated, there were no civilian casualties at Iwo Jima, unlike at Saipan and Okinawa. After Iwo Jima was declared secured, the Marines estimated there were no more than three hundred Japanese left alive in the island's warren of caves and tunnels. In fact, there were close to three thousand. The Japanese bushido code of honor, coupled with effective propaganda which portrayed American G.I.'s as ruthless animals, prevented surrender for many Japanese soldiers. Those who could not bring themselves to commit suicide hid in the caves during the day and came out at night to prowl for provisions. Some did eventually surrender and were surprised that the Americans often received them with compassion, offering water, cigarettes, or coffee.[9]

Strategic Importance

The Japanese on Iwo Jima had radar and were thus able to notify their comrades at home of incoming B-29 Superfortresses flying from the Mariana Islands. Fighter aircraft based on Iwo Jima sometimes attacked these planes, which were especially vulnerable on their way to Japan because they were heavily laden with bombs and fuel. Although the island was used as an air-sea rescue base after its seizure, the traditional justification for Iwo Jima's strategic importance to the United States' war effort has been that it provided a landing and refueling site for American bombers on missions to and from Japan. In all, 2,251 B-29 Superfortress landings on Iwo Jima were recorded during the war.

The Battle of Iwo Jima took place between the United States and the Japanese Empire in February and March 1945 during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The U.S. invasion, known as Operation Detachment, was charged with the mission of capturing the airfields on Iwo Jima.

The battle was marked by some of the fiercest fighting of the campaign. The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified, with vast bunkers, hidden artillery, and 18 kilometers (11 mi) of tunnels.[2][3] The battle was the first American attack on the Japanese Home Islands and the Imperial soldiers defended their positions tenaciously. Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers present at the beginning of the battle, over 20,000 were killed and only 216 taken prisoner.[1]



Joe Rosenthal photographed five Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the U.S. flag atop the 166 meter (546 ft) Mount Suribachi. The photograph records what was actually the second flag-raising on the mountain, which took place on the fifth day of the 35-day battle. The picture became the iconic image of the battle and may be the most reproduced photograph of all time.


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