Iwo Jima was home to some of the bloodiest battles fought during World War II. On February 19, 1945, Americans invaded the small island off the coast of Japan and started the five-week battle.
The island had three airfields and could be a staging area for invading Japan. However, Japan had sustained heavy losses throughout the war, including their planes.
The few they had left were not enough to protect the countries line of defense. So the Americans decided that because of this, it was time to attack, and the battle should only last a few days.
However, the Japanese had taken measures to defend themselves utilizing their landscape and jungles. So when the U.S. Marines launched their amphibious assault on Iwo Jima, they were not expecting to be met challenges.
Iwo Jima Invasion
The first challenge the Marines faced was getting up onto the beach. The dunes were made of soft volcanic ash that was difficult to climb up and hard for vehicles to manage.
The Japanese patiently waited for their moment to strike, while the American's assumed their airstrike was effective. Then, with the Marines clambering to get up on the beaches, General Tadamichi Kuribayashi's artillery positions hidden in the mountains began firing.
The attacks inflicted major casualties on the Marines. Then, at dusk, the Japanese soldiers attacked the Marines, but they finally made some headway and took one of Iwo Jima's airfields.
Taking The Island
In a matter of days, 70,000 Marines made their way onto Iwo Jima, outnumbering the Japanese. However, many American soldiers were injured or killed in the 5-week battle.
The Japanese also suffered great losses and ran low on their supplies, including weapons and food. Most of their attacks happened under cover of darkness.
Kuribayashi's final banzai attack occurred on March 25, 1945, with 300 men. While the American's took a major hit, they stopped the attack.
Iwo Jima was declared captured on the 26th. But the following week was still spent fighting the Japanese holdouts in the island's jungles. The final holdouts did not surrender until four years after WWII ended.
Unfortunately, the U.S. military never used the island as a staging point.
Commemorating The Battle
A statue was placed by Arlington National Cemetery in 1954 to honor those who fought at Iwo Jima. Clint Eastwood made Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006.