Iwo Jima (JFK+50) At 9 o'clock on the morning of February 19, 1945, three United States Marine Corps divisions landed on the beach on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima*. The landing forces were met with silence.
Joseph Alexander says that Japanese Lt. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi** used non-traditional defensive tactics making "intelligent use of Iwo's forbidding terrain and his troops fighting skills."
The island was defended by seven Japanese battalions comprised of 21,000 soldiers who were protected by a network of caves. As Marines approached the first lines of hidden Japanese soldiers, they encountered heavy machine gun fire and suffered many casualties.
U.S. Colonel Justus M. Chambers of the 25th Marine Division said that the incoming automatic weapons fire was so great "You could have held up a cigarette and lit it on the stuff going by."
By evening, the Marines had lost 550 dead and 1800 wounded. The Battle of Iwo Jima lasted until March 26, 1945. By that time 19,000 of the 21,000 Japanese defenders were dead. Despite this fact, the battle was the only one fought by the USMC in the Pacific in which they suffered more casualties than the enemy.
*Iwo Jima, a.k.a. Sulfur Island, 8 square miles in size is located 750 miles from Tokyo, Japan. It is half-way between the Marianas & the Japanese home island of Honshu.
**Tadamichi Kuribayashi (1891-1945) was born in Nagaro Prefecture, Japan & graduated from the Army Academy in 1914 & Army War College in 1923. TK lived in the U.S. from 1928-1930 & studied at Harvard. TK was killed in action on Iwo Jima.
"The Battle of Iwo Jima: A 36-day bloody slog on a sulfuric island", by Joseph Alexander, World War II Magazine, www.militarytimes.com/
Marines on Iwo Jima