Valin Posted February 23, 2012 Share Posted February 23, 2012 This Day Then The Battle of Iwo Jima was 5 days old on this day in 1945. It was a very isolated island with absolutely no territorial significance but strategically it was crucial for Japan's defence of the Pacific and their own homeland. US air strikes against the island had begun the previous summer and continued until 19th February when their army finally invaded but although the Japanese had no route of retreat, they had bedded and were determined to fight to the bitter end. There were heavy casualties on the US side but they continued to advance nevertheless, closing in on Mount Suribachi from where the Japanese were firing. The fighting was fierce and the battle lasted until the end of March, so the raising of the flag atop the mountain after 5 days was more than a little premature. The Marines themselves had been surprised to reach the summit without too much opposition (the Japanese were actually still hiding in underground tunnel networks inside the mountain), so Colonel Chandler Johnson ordered the photograph to be taken, as the first raising of a foreign flag on Japanese soil. Half of the 6 men depicted in the photo died later in the battle, the three survivors becoming celebrities on their return home, though one (Ira Hayes) was uncomfortable with the amount of attention foisted on him and he died of alcoholism 10 years later at the age of 32. Almost all of the Japanese soldiers on the island died in battle or by ritual suicide, though famously some held out for years after the war ended, either unaware of, or unwilling to accept, their nation's surrender. The story of the battle and the raising of the flag are brilliantly explored in the 2006 Clint Eastwood-directed films "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YedHaLF5So&feature=endscreen&NR=1 "The battle of Iwo Jima has been won. Among the Americans who served on Iwo, uncommon valor was a common virtue." Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz 2 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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