Friday, February 20, 2015


Victory was never in doubt . .  . What was in doubt, in all our minds, was whether there would be any of us left to dedicate our cemetery at the end, or whether the last Marine would die knocking out the last Japanese gun and gunner.
- General Graves Erskine at dedication of 3rd Marine Division cemetery on Iwo Jima history war
Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the United State Marine Corps landing on the small 8-square mile island of Iwo Jima (half the size of the Connecticut town THC lives in).  When the battle ended five weeks later 6,821 Americans were dead and 19,217 wounded; of the Japanese garrison of 22,600 only 216 had been captured - the rest were dead or lurking in the 18 mile network of tunnels constructed before the attack.  The last of the Japanese in hiding did not give themselves up until January 6, 1949 more than three years after the end of the war.  The battle is best known for the famous photograph of the planting of the American flag on Mount Suribachi but that was on the fifth day of fighting; of the six flag raisers, three were to die before the battle ended, a story told well in the book Flags Of Our Fathers.  Of the 82 Medals of Honor awarded to Marines during the war in the Pacific, 22 were for actions during the battle of Iwo Jima (for the story of one of the Marine honorees from an earlier Pacific campaign and the only serviceman in American history photographed during the action for which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor see Tarawa).  Their sacrifice allowed thousands of American lives to be saved as Iwo became a mid-point emergency landing station for American bombers flying to and from Japan from bases in the Marianas as well as allowing escort fighters to be stationed there.

The high ratio of American to Japanese casualties here and at Okinawa (April-June 1945) led to the frighteningly heavy casualty estimates for the anticipated invasion of Japan in the fall and winter of 1945-6 where we would face more than a million Japanese soldiers, 10,000 kamikaze planes and an armed civilian populace prepared to fight to the death (for more on that story read Downfall).
(from bravo devil dog graphix)

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