This was part of Lt. Kuribayashi's plan to allow U.S. assault forces to land on the shore and to hold off attacking them until they began to move inland. As American marines advanced onto the Island, Kuribayashi's hidden machine gun nests dug into the island opened up and inflicted very heavy casualties. The interconnected bunkers enabled the Japanese forces to retreat under attack and then emerge from other bunkers behind American the lines of American advances to attack them from their rear
(Bishop & McNab, 2007; Ray, 2003).
After four days of fighting since the February 19, 1945, U.S. marines captured
Mt. Suribachi, the highest point on the Island on February 23rd (Ambrose, 2001; Bishop & McNab, 2007; Ray, 2003). Five marines and one Navy corpsman erected a small U.S.
flag that was immediately ordered replaced with a larger flag so that it would be visible to the entire island and to Naval vessels offshore (Ambrose, 2001; Bishop & McNab, 2007).
The photo of that second flag raising later won the Pulitzer Prize; unfortunately, by that time, only three of the six U.S. personnel had survived the rest of the battle for Iwo Jima.
The surviving members of that six-man team later toured the U.S. For Armed Forces
publicity campaigns and public relations (Ambrose, 2001).
The U.S. assault on Iwo Jima resulted in the heaviest losses in U.S. Marine
history (Bishop & McNab, 2003). American combat losses on Iwo Jima totaled nearly
7,000 marines and navy seamen killed in action and almost four times that many wounded. U.S. forces systematically reduced the Japanese resistance one sector at a time until the last remaining defenders retreated to a small area at the far end of the island from Mt. Suribachi. By that time, almost 22,000 of the nearly 23,000 Japanese forces had either been killed in action or killed themselves in suicide attacks or ritual suicide in...
Only about 1,000 Japanese prisoners survived the battle for Iwo Jima
(Bishop & McNab, 2003).
The Significance of the U.S. Victory:
The capture of Iwo Jima was crucial to the U.S. campaign against Japan after the victory in Europe almost a year before. By the end of 1944, a U.S. victory was no longer in doubt, but without the capture of the Japanese Home Islands, the war could have lasted considerably longer and cost many more U.S. casualties in the long run (Ambrose, 2001).
The island-hopping concept substantially reduced the flying distance required by U.S.
heavy bombers and allowed them to conduct effective strategic bombing operations against Mainland Japan without the heavy losses from Japanese fighter/interceptors based on those islands. Iwo Jima and the other captured Japanese Home Islands also enabled the rescue of several thousand American airmen who would probably have been lost at sea because of equipment malfunction and damage sustained in battle (Ambrose, 2001).
Even with the availability of the islands for U.S. operations, the Japanese would hold out for another five months. Ultimately, the island-hopping strategy that began with Iwo
Jima shortened the war and saved many more U.S. casualties than were sacrificed in operations against Iwo Jima.
Ambrose, S. (2001). The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Bishop, C., McNab, C. (2007). Campaigns of World War II Day By Day. London, UK:
Commager, H., Miller, D. (2002). The Story of World War II: Revised, Expanded & Updated from the Original Text by Henry Steele Commager. New York: Bantam
Ray, J. (2003). The Illustrated History of WWII.…
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