BATTLE OF IWO JIMA IN WORLD WAR II
The Battle of Iwo Jima was a major battle of World War II in the Pacific and occurred from February 19th to March 26th, 1945. The battle was an American amphibious invasion of the Japan-held island of Iwo Jima which was approximately 575 miles from the homeland islands of Japan. The United States wanted to take control over the island of Iwo Jima, and its three airfields in hopes of using the island as a staging ground for the United States’ attack against mainland Japan.
The battle began with an American bombardment of the island. However, the 23,000 Japanese defenders moved to the interior of the island and defended themselves in a series of tunnels and caves from in which they could hide. As such, the Americans easily captured the beaches of Iwo Jima but soon were faced with intense and bloody fighting against the Japanese defenders in the interior.
Despite the Japanese resistance, the United States was able to obtain victory relatively quickly due to its overwhelming control over the air of Iwo Jima and due to its military superiority on the island. For example, the 23,000 Japanese defenders had to face over 110,000 United States Marines as well as the United States Air Force.
Today, the battle is remembered for several different reasons. First, it had some of the fiercest fighting of World War II in the Pacific. For example, the United States suffered over 6,800 dead in the battle and another 19,200 were wounded. However, of the original 23,000 Japanese defenders, approximately less than 1000 were taken prisoner or wounded, meaning that the vast majority died in battle. It was common practise for Japanese soldiers to charge the American infantry when their supplies were gone. The Japanese code of fighting, bushido, held that the soldiers should fight to defend their homeland until their death and not surrender. This view caused the death of most of the Japanese on the island. The battle is also remembered for the famous photograph of 6 American soldiers (5 marines and 1 navy corpsman) raising the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the island. The image has become iconic and has been widely used in popular culture and for war memorials. Finally, the Battle of Iwo Jima is also notable for the odd story of 2 Japanese soldiers that hide in the caves and tunnels of the island after the battle ended.