The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945), or Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States Armed Forces fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese Empire. The American invasion had the goal of capturing the entire island, including its three airfields. This month-long battle included some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the War in the Pacific of World War II.
The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified, with a dense network of bunkers, hidden artillery positions, and 18 km (11 mi) of underground tunnels. The Americans on the ground were aided by extensive naval artillery and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators had complete air supremacy over Iwo Jima from the beginning of the battle. American seapower and airpower were capable of delivering vast amounts of fire onto the Japanese troops. This invasion was the first American attack on Japanese home territory, and the Japanese soldiers and Marines defended their positions tenaciously with no thought of surrender. The Japanese general in charge never considered surrendering to the Americans to save his men, and he and his officers had vowed to fight to the death, no matter how hopeless their battle was.
Iwo Jima was also the only battle by the U.S. Marine Corps in which the overall American casualties (killed and wounded) exceeded those of the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths were thrice those of the Americans. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 of these were taken prisoner. Some of these were captured because they had been knocked unconscious or otherwise disabled. The rest were killed or missing and presumed dead.
Despite the bloody fighting and severe casualties on both sides, the Japanese defeat was assured from the start. The Americans possessed an overwhelming superiority in arms and numbers. These factors, coupled with the impossibility of Japanese retreat or reinforcement, ensured that there were no plausible circumstances in which the Americans could have lost the battle.
The battle was immortalized by Joe Rosenthal's photograph of the raising of the U.S. flag on top of the 166 m (545 ft) Mount Suribachi by five U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy battlefield Hospital Corpsman. The photograph records the second flag-raising on the mountain, both of which took place on the fifth day of the 35-day battle. The picture became the iconic image of the battle and it has been widely reproduced.
Read more about Battle Of Iwo Jima: Background, The Amphibious Landing, Raising The Flag, Northern Iwo Jima, Weapons, Aftermath, Strategic Importance, Legacy, Medal of Honor Awards, Movies and Documentaries
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“The militancy of men, through all the centuries, has drenched the world with blood, and for these deeds of horror and destruction men have been rewarded with monuments, with great songs and epics. The militancy of women has harmed no human life save the lives of those who fought the battle of righteousness. Time alone will reveal what reward will be allotted to women.”
—Emmeline Pankhurst (18581928)
“No battle is worth fighting except the last one.”
—J. Enoch Powell (b. 1912)