Today, in 1945, on a volcanic island in the Pacific that is merely one-third the size of Manhattan one of the bloodiest and most significant battles of WW II began. The battle for Iwo Jima was underway. The battle was the first American attack on the Japanese home islands and as you can imagine they defended the position with great tenacity. There were more than 18,000 Japanese defenders on the island at the start of battle. Only 216 were taken as prisoners and the rest were either killed in action or went missing and presumed dead. Such was the determination to maintain possession of the small island.
The battle lasted 36 days and was forever immortalized with a photograph by Joseph Rosenthal of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi on February 23, 1945. This photo is probably the most well known and recognized photos of WWII and immortalized the battle of the Pacific.
During the battle there were 6,821 Americans killed and a total of 26,000 casualties. There were a total of 27 Medals of Honor awarded for meritorious action during the battle. Twenty-two of these were awarded to U.S. Marines and five were issued to the members of the U.S. Navy.
Iwo Jima is a quiet place today. Peaceful and still somewhat desolate except for the visitors from both nations that come to honor the men who fought and died here. To see Iwo Jima today click here: