Battle of Iwo Jima and the U.S. Marines - Soldiers, bunkers and tunnels.
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Return to Iwo Jima: 75 years after US-Japan battle, what is the island like today?
With human remains still being found, the Japanese island is covered in sobering reminders of its bloody past. US marines regularly make the pilgrimage to the top of Mount Suribachi to remember their fallen countrymen.
Defeating Japanese troops with flamethrowers: Medal of Honor recipient shares his story
Hershel Williams, who is a Medal of Honor recipient, served in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve for 20 years before retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO4). One of the highlights of his military service, which he discusses in a video interview, occurred on Feb. 23, 1945, when he led a unit that managed to successfully take out seven 'pillbox' bunkers on Iwo Jima.
How the US's massive bombardment of Iwo Jima during WWII made capturing the island from Japan even tougher
During the hell that was World War II, the US conducted 72 straight days of bombing raids on the island of Iwo Jima to gain access. America did everything within their power to weaken Japanese forces before sending ground troops in to secure the rest of island for allied use. Although US forces bombed the crap out of the island, one aspect of their strategy may have been overlooked in a big way. Before the several weeks of the continued bombing, Japanese forces managed to construct well-fortified, underground structures that would withstand heavy American artillery.
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The Man Who's Really in That Iconic Iwo Jima Photo
The Marine Corps announced that the late Private First Class Harold Schultz appears in the iconic WWII image of U.S. soldiers raising the American flag on Iwo Jima — and not John Bradley, the Navy hospital corpsman who became the subject of the bestseller Flags of our Fathers. The announcement supports claims by amateur historians Eric Krelle and Stephen Foley that the Marines had made mistakes in identifying the six men in the photo taken atop Mt. Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, by photographer Joe Rosenthal. Schultz kept his involvement in the photo mostly secret from his family.
Star-spangled mystery: what became of lost Iwo Jima flag-raising photos?
History has not been kind to Army Pfc. George Burns or Marine Sgt. Louis Burmeister. Both military photographers were on Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, when six U.S. warriors raised the Stars and Stripes to alert the world that the bloody battle of Iwo Jima was all but won. And both claimed they took their own versions of the iconic shot that won Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize. That's where military history becomes mystery. The photos they said they shot have never been seen by the public and may be forever lost. Or perhaps they never existed, which is the Marine Corps' explanation.
Survivors of Iwo Jima: I credit that battle with making a man out of me
Joseph 'Pep' Vocelka remembers Iwo Jima for the blood, the sweat, the sulfurous stink and the fear. 'You see guys getting blown apart, you take everything in stride — you hope and pray that you're not one of them. If anyone said he wasn't scared, he was a damn liar.' Iwo Jima (Sulfur Island) isn't the real name of the island — it's actually called Iwo To, but was misidentified by Japanese naval officers before the battle. It's a flyspeck in the western Pacific Ocean, 750 miles south of Tokyo. The Japanese evacuated its 1,018 residents in 1943 to fortify the island for an expected American invasion.
Radio used by the Japanese commander found in a bunker on Iwo Jima
A military radio found in a bunker on Iwo Jima was likely that used by the Japanese army to send their final message before the island was overrun by American troops The transmitter was probably used by the Japanese commander on the island, Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi. The 2-metre wide transmitter was found in an underground bunker, with the remains of a Japanese soldier located nearby. The bunker, in the north of the volcanic island, is believed to have functioned as the Japanese Imperial Army's communications centre.
Japanese search teams travel back to Iwo Jima to locate WWII remains after US documents identify new burial sites
The remains of more than 12,000 Japanese soldiers have still to be located on Iwo Jima, 66 years after the Americans captured the Pacific outpost in one of the most savage battles of the Second World War. The documents handed over to Japan's health ministry by the US National Archives and Records Administration identify four sites where the American forces are believed to have buried the dead Japanese.
Iwo Jima WWII map returns to battleship USS North Carolina (includes large photo)
A rare rubber relief map of Iwo Jima has been returned to the Battleship USS North Carolina after a six month conservation project at East Carolina University. The 1:12,500 scale intelligence map - created by the Naval Photographic Interpretation Center to train military personnel and depict the island with air strips and topographic features - consists of cardboard, plaster and foam rubber.
Click here for a direct link to the map.
Hershel Williams received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima
66 years ago Hershel "Woody" Williams was face down in the black volcanic sand of Iwo Jima when he heard the cheers. "The Marines around me started yelling and screaming and firing their weapons in the air and jumping up and down. I really couldn't figure out what was going on." Not until he saw an American flag flying on Mount Suribachi.
Corporal Williams' own bravery - "above and beyond the call of duty" - was recognized with the Medal of Honor. He charged Japanese machine guns, snipers and mines - with a flamethrower. At one point, he climbed atop a Japanese pillbox and stuck the nozzle of the flamethrower through the pillbox's air vent, killing the troops inside. When Japanese riflemen attempted to stop him with their bayonets, he took them out with a burst from the flamethrower.
Williams, who served in the 3rd Marine Division, is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Iwo Jima veterans get heroes' welcome at the annual Iwo Jima Survivors Association reunion
WWII Navy veteran James Linn - one of the first soldiers to step foot on Iwo Jima - has been waiting 18 years to attend the annual Iwo Jima Survivors Association reunion. He finally managed to raise enough money to make it to this year's event, which marked the 66th anniversary of the battle to seize the Pacific Ocean island stronghold from Japanese forces. Other notable guests at the 21st annual reunion included Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams, who won a Medal of Honor for taking out a network of concrete pillboxes with his 70-pound flamethrower.
Douglas Faulconer witnessed the battle of Iwo Jima from a landing craft converted to a floating gun platform
In 1945, Douglas Faulconer was a young Navy lieutenant serving as executive officer of LCI 631 (Landing Craft Infantry). However, for the invasion of Iwo Jima, his ship was converted to a floating gun platform, equipped with mortars to provide fire support for the Marines attempting to seize the heavily fortified island from the Japanese.
"I developed a lot of respect for the Japanese gunners on the island. They would drive us off the beach, we'd come back; they would drive us off the beach, we'd come back - they were very accurate with their guns."
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ed Glennon recalls Iwo Jima and boot camp drill sergeants
Ed Glennon survived 2 months of backbreaking training at boot camp in Parris Island, S.C. "We were Yankees. The drill sergeants were mostly southerners. The called us Damn Yankees. They treated us like dirt." Glennon was assigned to the 5th Engineer Battalion of the 5th Marine Division, which trained for months at Camp Tarawa, until it was sent to Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945. "It was nothing like training. I think I was in hell. The first time you make a landing, you don't know what to expect or what to do. ... You couldn't take much ground. If you got 200 yards a day, you were lucky."
5 facts you may have not know about the battle of Iwo Jima - Last soldiers surrendered in 1949
The underdog Japanese forces were outnumbered by 5-to-1, but they had fortified Iwo Jima with a complex labyrinth of tunnels and caves. At least two Japanese soldiers lived in the caves and tunnels and avoid detection by occupying American forces for nearly 5 years.--- Navajo code talkers were credited with winning the Battle of Iwo Jima. Lt General Seizo Arisue, the Japanese chief of intelligence, revealed after the war that while they broke the Air Force code, they failed to break the Navajo cod. --- The Battle of Iwo Jima accounted for 1/3 of all Medal of Honor awards for U.S. Marines in World War Two.
American journalists do not recognize the iconic Iwo Jima flag raising photograph
Recently Ron Grossman took a survey in the newsroom, asking colleagues to identify the iconic World War II photo of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima. While some recognized the image, others couldn't quite place it. "I know I ought to know it. It was in the movie, Flags of Our Fathers," one co-worker said. Some, seeing military uniforms, figured out it must be a war photo. Maybe Vietnam? One suggested it was D-Day. Journalists are probably more attuned to history than many people who have less motivation to keep up with the past (almost 25% of 17-year-olds couldn't identify Adolf Hitler in a survey).
Albert Bavaria may have guided Iwo Jima photographer Joseph Rosenthal to Mount Suribachi
Albert Bavaria was an officer in the U.S. Navy in February 1945 when a man with a camera talked to him at Iwo Jima. Bavaria was a beach master, making sure supplies that landed on Iwo Jima's beach got where they needed to go. One day a photographer asked where to get a good shot. "The tracer bullets - we could see them going up and up and up Mount Suribachi. We said the Marines are getting to the top - maybe that's a good place to go." Bavaria can't be sure he spoke to Joe Rosenthal, who would photograph 5 Marines and a Navy corpsman as they set up an American flag atop Mount Suribachi.
American WWII veterans travel back to Iwo Jima to tour the island and mark 65th anniversary of battle
"It's a paradise. I see no resemblance at all. Even the beach seems different," Marine commander Richard Rothwell explained as he sat in a wheelchair overlooking Invasion Beach. He was among a dozen WWII veterans able to make the 65th anniversary trip to the island thanks to the U.S. Marines, who flew the group here after their charter flight was needed elsewhere. Rothwell, who toured the island with Marine escorts, was commander of a 4th Marines Division battalion when the invasion began. The U.S. flag was raised above Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, but fighting continued for more than a month.
World War II veteran Arthur LaPorte recalls the Battle of Iwo Jima
Arthur LaPorte enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943, and in 1945 he stepped off the boat onto the Iwo Jima beach - the shelling was already under way. "I thought: Holy moly, we're going in at the worst possible place. I thought we'd be sitting ducks." He took cover under the embankment of the beach. Behind him he saw the ocean filled with ships. In front of him, snipers were aiming for his head. With the Japanese soldiers in underground tunnels, Allied troops used flamethrowers and backpacks filled with explosives to take them out. LaPorte saw only two living Japanese soldiers during the combat.
James Goodrich will re-tour Iwo Jima, where a Japanese sniper almost killed him
James Goodrich last saw the hot, black, lava sand of Iwo Jima in March 1945, when he attempted to recapture a machine gun seized by the enemy. He moved through the jungle with a carbine in one hand and a grenade with a pulled pin in the other, never noticing the Japanese sniper. "I stepped over a log and that's when I was hit in the stomach." Soon he was lying in a hospital tent, awaking each morning to the sunlight against his face, the rays poking through tent holes left by enemy bullets and shrapnel. Now Goodrich will travel back to Iwo Jima: "I don't know how I'll react. I just know I won't have to worry about anybody shooting at me this time."
The Battle of Iwo Jima survivors reunite - maybe for the last time
In what could be one of the last gatherings of its kind, 28 survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima met on the 64th anniversary. "This may be the last meeting of these Iwo Jima survivors... it is harder for them to get around," said Al Cadenhead. Military planners had expected an easy battle at Iwo Jima and were surprised by the intensity of the Japanese resistance. What had been expected to be a 3-day operation ended up taking over a month. "I watched the bombardment the night before and didn't think anything could survive on that island," recalled Jack Runninger.
US army documentary: Japanese veteran travels back to Hell Island (Iwo Jima)
The tunnels of Iwo Jima snake deep beneath the volcanic soil, their entrances camouflaged by a tangle of vines and tall grasses. In their choking heat, Tsuruji Akikusa suffered months of hunger and thirst. The bodies of dead comrades lay around him. His closest friend blew himself up with a grenade rather than surrender. Finally, Akikusa was the only one left alive in his cave. In May 1945 American troops found him wounded, unconscious and dehydrated. Akikusa, 81, relived those horrors when he stepped foot for the first time since the war on Iwo's black beaches, flown to the island for a US army-produced documentary on his life.
The effort to recover the remains of the U.S. Marine who filmed Iwo Jima flag-raising fails
The latest effort to locate the remains of the U.S. Marine who filmed the flag-raising at Iwo Jima has ended like the first. A team from the Defense Department’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command finished a 20-day mission on the southwest side of Hill 362A on Iwo Jima without discovering any trace of Sgt. William H. Genaust. Genaust, a combat photographer with the 28th Marines, shot the famous footage of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. He was killed by machine-gun fire 9 days later while helping to secure a cave on the island.
Iwo Jima flag-raiser gets American citizenship document 6 decades after World War II
One of the Marines shown in an iconic World War II photograph raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima was posthumously granted a certificate of U.S. citizenship. Sergeant Michael Strank, born in Czechoslovakia and came to the U.S. when he was 3, got citizenship when his father was naturalized in 1935. However, U.S. authorities recently noticed that Strank - who was killed in action on the Iwo Jima island on March 1, 1945 - never was given his papers. At a ceremony at the Marine Corps Memorial (which depicts the flag-raising) in Arlington, Virginia, a certificate of citizenship was handed over to Strank's younger sister, Mary Pero.
World War II Veteran returns to tour the battle of Iwo Jima site
WWII veteran Paul Linden, an Air Force radio operator, didn’t plan on visiting Iwo Jima the first time around. In July 1945, his B-29 Superfortress had to make an emergency landing on the Pacific island. "We had to shut down 2 engines and stay there... I still remember how difficult it was to walk in that volcanic ash." While on the island he went up Mount Suribachi and flew an American flag for fellow WWII veteran George Gebes. "A good part of my enjoyment was talking with the natives. Many of them came up to me and thanked the Americans for giving them back their islands."
The 63rd anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima - Veterans honor those lost
The 63rd anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, where America gained one of its bloodiest victories in World War Two, was marked at a ceremony. A 21-gun salute was fired at the Camp Pendleton ceremony. Tuxedoed veterans, 200 of them, placed a wreath at the Iwo Jima war monument. Joe Garza, chairman of the Iwo Jima Memorial Committee, spoke about of the sacrifices made by the 6,821 service members who died. "They were there and then no more: the Jims, the Jacks, the Bobs that hailed from all parts of the USA..." The Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19 - March 26, 1945, is one of the proudest chapters in the history of the Marine Corps.
Raymond Jacobs - The last man in iconic Iwo Jima flag-raising photo
Raymond Jacobs, the last member of the Marines photographed during the original U.S. flag-raising on Iwo Jima during World War II, has died at 82. He had spent his later years proving that he was the radio operator photographed looking up at an American flag as it was being raised by Marines on Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. He was on the mountain during the raising of a smaller American flag, though he had returned to his unit by the time the renowned AP photo was taken of a second flag-raising. The radioman's face isn't fully visible in the first photo by Lou Lowery, but other negatives from the same film roll show the radioman is Jacobs.
Iwo Jima reverts to prewar name Iwo To - Upsetting World War II vets
Japan has returned to using the prewar name for the island of Iwo Jima at the urging of its original inhabitants, who want to reclaim an identity hijacked by movies like "Letters from Iwo Jima." The new name, Iwo To, was adopted by the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute. Surviving islanders praised the move, but others said it cheapens the memory of Iwo Jima campaign. Back in 1945, the small island was the vortex of the fierce battle immortalized by the photograph by Joe Rosenthal showing Marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi. Marine Maj. Gen. Fred Haynes, captain in the regiment that raised the flag, was upset by news.
Buel Cochran recalls Iwo Jima and dangers of souvenir hunting
On the second morning after Iwo Jima landing, his outfit, the 5th Engineers, came under fire with Japanese artillery units lobbing shells at them. "It was hell, that’s what it was. They hit us all night. The sand must have been 6 feet deep. We dug foxholes with our hands. When one of those shells hit in that sand, it would go about 4 to 5 feet deep. You had to dig another foxhole just as soon as those shells hit." As a corporal, one of his commands was to discourage souvenir hunting. A comrade didn’t listen and scoured the brush for a Japanese flag. A sniper caught the man and 2 shots pierced the air. "Oh, God, shot in the guts," the Marine gasped before dying.
On Iwo Jima's beach, war dead are remembered
This was Invasion Beach, where 61,000 American marines poured onto this volcanic island. It was Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, who commanded the badly outnumbered Japanese defenders, most of whom fought to the death. The blasted concrete bunkers and rusting machine guns testify to the ferocity of the battle of Iwo Jima. Of the 21,925 Japanese who died in action, the remains of only 8,595 have been recovered. Most of the other 13,330 Japanese who died in the battle remain sealed in collapsed tunnels and bunkers, turning the entire island into one vast tomb. US was able to find all but 493 of the 7,000 Americans killed.
Joe Combee was among the first ashore at Iwo Jima (Article no longer available from the original source)
"In the Marine Corps, when you get steak and eggs for breakfast, it means you're going to die," says Joe Combee. He remembers the landing Feb. 19, 1945, climbing into a Higgins boat with 30 other members of the 5th Marine Division, 27th Regiment. "There were ships as far as you could see." Combee's boat hit the shore near the base of Mount Suribachi, and the men began a push toward the interior of the island. He became well-acquainted with the sight of wounded men, dead bodies and detached limbs. "You didn't have any buddies. When you go into the Marine Corps, they tell you not to make any friends, because you're going to get upset."
The battleground that was Iwo Jima - Bunkers and tunnels
I was told the slopes of Mount Suribachi sometimes run red with rust, like blood, from shells left from the battle for Iwo Jima, but what struck me most was the tranquillity of the grassy hillsides. It's hard to connect this tiny island to the place where thousands of Japanese and Americans were shot to death in one of the crucial battles of the Pacific during WW2. At one stop on a rare media tour of the island with Japanese military escorts, a rusting naval artillery piece sat with an empty bird's nest in the barrel. From an abandoned bunker, I looked out to Mount Suribachi, where 6 U.S. Marines were photographed on Feb 23, 1945, raising US flag.
A few facts on Iwo Jima for war buffs
The following are facts and figures about the World War 2 Battle of Iwo Jima that was named by American strategists as "Operation: Detachment." -- American troops that landed at Iwo Jima were with the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine divisions. -- The American flag was raised at Mount Suribachi on day 4 of a battle that lasted 36 days. -- There were more Medals of Honor bestowed at the Battle of Iwo Jima than any other battle in American history. A total of 27 medals were awarded. -- Of 22,000 japanese soldiers only 1,083 survived. -- 19,000 Marines were killed during WWII. One-third died during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Absent from history: the black soldiers at the Battle of Iwo Jima
Nearly 900 African-Americans fought on the Japanese island but not one appears in Clint Eastwood's film. "Of all the movies that have been made of Iwo Jima, you never see a black face. This is the last straw. I feel like I've been denied, I've been insulted, I've been mistreated. But what can you do? We still have a strong underlying force in my country of rabid racism." Iwo Jima vet Thomas McPhatter even had a part in the raising of the flag. "The man who put the first flag up on Iwo Jima got a piece of pipe from me to put the flag up on. That, too, is absent from the film."
Fierce struggles on Iwo Jima -- The first wave of U.S. Marines
Marine Corps private Charles Kovel took a walk on the beach 62 years ago. And his life was the never the same. On Feb. 19, 1944, he was part of the first wave of U.S. Marines to land at "Green Beach" on Iwo Jima. He was trained to handle a Browning Automatic Rifle as part of an assault unit. During Kovel's first night, a Japanese soldier jumped into his fox hole. He fought with him and killed him. He found a flag among the enemy soldier's belongings. The Marine's mission was to capture Mount Suribachi. From there gunners could zero in on every inch of the landing zones, which were flanked by blockhouses (above-ground bunker) and pillboxes.
Satoru Omagari was ordered to the defense of Iwo Jima
Satoru Omagari was a sub-lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force when he was ordered to the defense of Iwo Jima in 1944. Here, published for the first time in English, are some of his recollections of the battle of Iwo Jima. -- At 18:00 on March 8, 1945, 20 days after American forces had landed on Iwo Jima, we were ordered to launch a full-scale attack on Mount Suribachi. I was leading a group of 100 troops. We wandered into Commander Nishi's Tank Unit Bunker Headquarters, and I was persuaded by Nishi to stay and regroup his units. The unit had already lost all its tanks from mortar attacks and the Americans' M4 combat tanks.
Battle of Iwo Jima clippings from 60 years ago (Article no longer available from the original source)
It's unbelievable that someone would give away more than 100 faded, yellow clippings that chronicle the historic Battle of Iwo Jima day-by-day as it unfolded on the pages of two of this country's bigger newspapers. Included was the April 15, 1945, edition of the Corp's Leatherneck magazine containing more than 20 full pages of Lou Lowrey's photographs. He was a Marine staff sergeant, who photographed the little-known first flag raising on Iwo Jima. "When Marines of the 5th Amphibious Corps stormed ashore on Iwo Jima they opened what has come to be regarded as one of the most bitterly fought operations in the history of modern warfare."
Legendary Marine Corps hero who died on Iwo Jima
The World War II Marine Corps hero, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, who died on Iwo Jima after legendary feats has a Navy destroyer and a lot more named for him. A stamp was issued with his image and tales of his courage are a boot camp staple. At Guadalcanal his unit defended against an elite Japanese regiment of 3,000 men. 12 of the 15 men were killed and two others wounded, but he held out and fired away for 3 days from the two machine guns, repairing one mid-battle and making a run for more ammunition. By the battle's end, 200 Japanese lay dead. His Medal of Honor citation credited him "Virtual annihilation" of the regiment.
The first American flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima
A WWII hero whose accomplishments were forgotten for years may soon have a veterans' health clinic named in his honor. Lindberg helped raise the first American flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima. His accomplishment was later overshadowed when a replacement flag was raised a few hours later.
The Battle for Iwo Jima
By 1945, the US was winning their fight against the Japanese retaking islands which had been taken from them earlier. Next on Admiral Nimitz' list was Iwo Jima. This island, known as "the unsinkable aircraft carrier," served as a fighter headquarters for Japanese pilots to attack the B-29's. In addition, there were over 21,000 Japanese troops garrisoned there. Iwo Jima had the strongest defenses and the heaviest firepower of all the Japanese Pacific strongholds. Under General Harry Schmidt's 5th Amphibious Corps an assault began on Feb 19th, 1945. The General was confident that the island would fall in 4 days.
Iwo Jima hurled four young men into battle
The battle for Iwo Jima began Feb. 19, 1945, but didn't end until March 15, with nearly 7,000 Americans and 20,000 Japanese killed. After years of retaking soil conquered by a Japanese military machine, America was knocking on the enemy's door by taking Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima was heavily entrenched with a network of caves, tunnels and pillboxes. The Japanese commander, Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi, had been told to fight to the death, hoping high US casualties would deter further attacks. "We expected five days; it turned out to be five weeks," Rutan said. The cost of the assault was debated even then. Walker's battalion of 850 Marines had 87% casualties.
23 Feb 1945: US flag raised over Iwo Jima battlefield
US troops have raised the Stars and Stripes over Iwo Jima four days after landing on the Japanese-held volcanic island. The 28th Regiment of the 5th Marine Division took Mount Suribachi at 1030 local time. The extinct volcano offers a strategic vantage point for the ongoing battle for control of the island. Iwo Jima would serve as a useful base for long-range fighters to cover B-29 Superfortresses in a bombing campaign against the Japan's capital. Although the Stars and Stripes are flying over the island the battle is far from over and the Japanese are defending every inch of the island using elaborate underground defences.