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Daily History

February 19 1945 US Marines Invade Iwo Jima

On February 19th 1945, Operation Detachment, the US Marines’ invasion of Iwo Jima, was launched. Iwo Jima was a barren Pacific island guarded by Japanese artillery, but to American military minds, it was prime real estate on which to build airfields to launch bombing raids against Japan, only 660 miles away.

The Americans began applying pressure to the Japanese defence of the island in February 1944, when B-24 and B-25 bombers raided the island for 74 days. It was the longest pre-invasion bombardment of the war, necessary because of the extent to which the Japanese, 21,000 strong, fortified the island, above and below ground, including a network of caves. Underwater demolition teams (“frogmen”) were dispatched by the Americans just before the actual invasion. When the Japanese fired on the frogmen, they gave away many of their “secret” gun positions.

The amphibious landings of Marines began the morning of February 19 as the secretary of the navy, James Forrestal, accompanied by journalists, surveyed the scene from a command ship offshore. As the Marines made their way onto the island, seven Japanese battalions opened fire on them. By evening, more than 550 Marines were dead and more than 1,800 were wounded. The capture of Mount Suribachi, the highest point of the island and bastion of the Japanese defence, took four more days and many more casualties. When the American flag was finally raised on Iwo Jima, the memorable image was captured in a famous photograph that later won the Pulitzer Prize.

About Craig Hill

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5 thoughts on “February 19 1945 US Marines Invade Iwo Jima

  1. I wonder ‘to be stubborn’ is a virtue or a sin… But, for sure – some need a lot of blood to win a Pulitzer… Thanks for keeping the history live.

    Posted by retrofilms.in | February 19, 2012, 00:17
    • Good question…when does tenacity (good) become stubbornness (bad). When does faith become foolishness?
      How sad! It *does* take blood to win a Pulitzer!

      But this blog certainly keeps history alive. Much of history I haven’t studied, but it’s good to learn here.

      Posted by Brook | February 19, 2012, 01:37
    • Whether it is a sin or a virtue, there is little doubt that the recording of the Iwo Jima had a significant impact on an exceptionally large number of people worldwide. That impact continues, to some degree, even today. Even though, tragically, so much blood was shed.

      Posted by Craig Hill | February 19, 2012, 09:01
  2. As a former U.S. Marine, you can only imagiune my dismay when I learned that this classic photo had been “staged”, not only ONCE but several times until it achieved the photogaphers desired effect. I know that doesn’t take-away from the determined combat the Marines fought to get the photo, but it’s just another one of those historical naivete’s that washed-away. GREAT POST! Love military histrory. My best back to you and THANK YOU as well for supporting and reading Today in Heritage History. I appreciate you!

    Posted by Peter Kevin Connell | February 19, 2012, 02:33
    • A good friend in the US, a retired marine gunnery sergeant, had told me about the photo before. As you said, it doesn’t detract from the historical event. I guess the photographer didn’t actually want to be there with the marines during the fighting, but the photo itself has captured the marine spirit, and sent the message to the world.

      I was honoured to have met many marines while in Hawaii, and am honoured to have you following my site. Thank you, and thank you also for providing quality writing for others to read.

      Posted by Craig Hill | February 19, 2012, 07:44

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