Essay title: Iwo Jima
“Victory was never in doubt. Its cost was. What was in doubt 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 gunner,” Major General Graves Erskine, dedicating his 3rd Marine Division cemetery at Iwo Jima just after the battle.(Alexander 207)
The sea invasion of Iwo Jima was and still is the largest of any in all the years of the United States Marine Corps history. This invasion was also the most devastating. More than 26,000 Marines lost their lives while when trying to take over this small volcanic island. Pretty much all of the twenty-one thousand Japanese soldiers protecting the island were killed only two thousand were taken as prisoners. The rest were killed or missing. “Tokyo was just 650 miles to the North, less than three hours’ flight time.” (Alexander 208). On February 23, 1945 seventy-two thousand Marines landed on the island of Iwo Jima with all their guns blazing. Dodging and weaving the heavy fire from the Japanese’s m.g.s, they had mounted in the jagged rocks. But that was the least of the Marines worries they had heavy 320mm mortars and powerful rockets. And their wicked 25mm automatic machine cannons. That was just the landing these Marines went to hell and back before it was all over.
The landscape of Iwo Jima was hellish itself. From the large jagged volcanic mountains to the steamed it leaked that smelt like sulfur. The total area of this little hell is less than seven square miles. The island had many aspects that would favor the defender. The island had few beaches, which made it harder for enemies to invade and take the island over. Also it had a “lunar” like landscape with dusty ground. The ground really hurt the Marines because they could not dig fox holes. If they were able to dig the would have had more protection and would have been able to hold their position longer. The Japanese had it made. They had all they needed in their caves. You would of thought that the Japanese would have paid a bunch of money to fortify the island but they really did not. The had many of the Empire’s most gifted mining engineers to dig tunnels throughout the volcanic mountains. It took them no time to have miles of tunnels running through the mountains. These tunnels made it easy for the Japanese to move from one position to the other. But life was not to great in the caves because the United States Seventh Air Force bombers dropped bombs on them daily in hope to soften them up before the massive invasion. Another helpful aspect to the Japanese was the sand on the beaches. The sand wasn’t like in paradise. It was black and loose making running across the beachhead very difficult. The only flaw to the island that did not help the Japanese was the surf. The surf was too rough to plant anti boat mines. “The entire island is flat except for the promontory of Mount Suribachi, and extinct volcano, which is 556 feet high in the southern portion of the island.”(Siefring 117)
The invasion with this type of landscape was not as easy as one would think. One Naval officer suggested that the invasion of this island would cost only fifteen-thousand Marine casualties. His Navy companions thought that he would be way off. Which he was by about eleven-thousand. The Marines planned to attack from the southeast coast. The put the 5th division on the left and the 4th on the right. The split these two divisions in to different code names. There was Green, Red 1, Red 2, Yellow 1, Yellow 2, Blue 1, and Blue 2.
“On the left flank the 28th Marines of Colonel Harry “the Horse” Liversedge would have to cut directly across the island before assaulting the 556-foot Mount Suribachi. On the right, Lieutenant Colonel Justice “ Jumping Joe” Chamber’s battalion of the 25th Marines would have to storm the near-vertical walls of the “Rock Quarry” from the waters edge.” (Alexander 209)
The 3rd Marine division was held at sea as reserves. On D-Day February 19,1945 the weather was perfect and Admiral Kelly Turner ordered the invasion. The USS Nevada (a ship damaged in Pearl Harbor) helped shell the Mount Suribachi’s caves. The whole invasion lasted from February 19, 1945 to March 26, 1945 when the Marines reached The most Northern point of Iwo Jima. This is know as Kitano Point or “Bloody Gorge”. The whole purpose of this invasion was to take control of the two airfields the Japanese had constructed and a third one was almost completed. The airfields made a good stop for the B-29s making the run to Japan to bomb them. This was more of a strategic move for the United States than just trying to take over Japan.
“This really happened, one of the most dramatic incidents of any war, vibrant, perpetuated in bronze in our nation’s capital,