26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue

26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue

Jacob Miller - July 17, 2017

The Battle of Iwo Jima was a major conflict, beginning February 19, 1945, in which the United States Marine Corps landed on and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army during the second World War. The invasion, named Operation Detachment, was purposed to capture the island and the three Japanese airfields to provide an operational base to attack the main islands.

The Imperial Japanese Army positions on Iwo Jima were heavily fortified, with a network of bunkers, hidden artillery posts, and more than 10 miles of underground tunnels. The American ground invasion was supported by extensive naval artillery and had complete air supremacy.

Upon landing on the beaches, the Marines found 15-foot-high slopes of soft black volcanic ash. The bad conditions prevented agile movement, the ability to dig foxholes, and the utilization of most heavily armored vehicles. Through a day of struggle, the Marines were able to get a footing on the island. In the subsequent days, the Americans expected the Japanese to attack in large rushing waves during the nights, a strategy they had previously implemented. Japanese General Kuribayashi forbade these Banzai attacks because had proved unsuccessful.

The Japanese withdrew into their tunnels for ambush. At night, Japanese soldiers would sneak out and attack Marines in their foxholes. Japanese soldiers who spoke English would also pretend to be wounded Americans and call for help, only to kill their attempted rescuers.

The Marines successfully captured Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945. The Marines learned that firearms were ineffective in clearing the tunnel systems and started using flame throwers. For the remainder of the 36 day assault, the Japanese held out in the tunnel systems for as long as they could. They eventually they ran out of food, water, and supplies. With defeat imminent, the Japanese resorted to Banzai attacks which were suppressed with machine guns and artillery support.

Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima, about 18,000 died from combat or ritual suicide. The battle resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 deaths.

26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
An aerial image that was taken as the first wave of Marines advanced on Iwo Jima. In total, nearly 110,000 Marines, sailors, and airmen participated in rooting out the Japanese forces dug in on the island. funker530
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
The first wave of U.S. Marines heads for the beach of Iwo Jima on February 19. CNN
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
The Navy used its big guns to destroy the lethal Japanese artillery where possible and to break open bunkers firing on U.S. troops. US Navy
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
This picture was snapped moments before the Marines on board the landing craft hit the beaches of Iwo Jima. This was just the beginning of what would be a slug fest with Japanese troops on the island. funker530
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
When the fire was particularly heavy, the soldiers would burrow into the sand for cover. National Park Srvice
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Photo caption: Iwo Jima, February 24, 1945. Scratch One Jap Position: A Japanese position at the base of Mount Suribachi is eliminated by a high explosive charge set off by the invading Marines. US Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
1) A Japanese soldier was playing dead in a shell hole until two Marines came across him. After moving the grenade that was with in an arms reach of the Japanese soldier, the Marines ensure he wasn’t booby trapped. They then offer the man a cigarette before taking him captive. Funker530
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
A Marine with a flamethrower crests the top of a ridge line during a charge against a Japanese pillbox on Motoyama airfield. Funker530
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Additional forces surged onto the beach as the first waves made their way inland. The reinforcements were made necessary by the stunning Marine losses. One 900-man regiment lost 750 Marines in just 5 hours. US Marine Corp Archives
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
United States Marines (foreground) blow up a cave connected to a Japanese blockhouse on Iwo Jima, 1945. Eugene Smith
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Armor was a valuable asset on Iwo Jima. The support tanks like the one picture above provided for the infantrymen was essential. The picture above is a top down view of a Sherman tank as it rolls across the black sand beaches of Iwo Jima. Funker530
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
B-29 after an emergency landing at Iwo Jima. U.S. Air Force photo

26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Bombs from U.S. Army 7th Air Force planes are seen here about to fall on Iwo Jima. Although tiny, the island is the only major airbase between the Marianas and Japan. It is the last air barrier before the home islands, guarding the southeastern approach to the Empire. U.S. planes bomb it again and again. Funker530
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Cpl. Edward Burckhardt found this kitten at the base of Mount Suribachi as the Marines were advancing. This image shows a completely different side of the bloody fight for Mount Suribachi. funker530
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Smashed by Japanese mortar and shellfire, trapped by Iwo’s treacherous black-ash sands, amtracs and other vehicles of war lay knocked out on the black sands of the volcanic fortress. ca. February/March 1945. US Navy Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Robert Warren
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Marines hiding in Japanese trenches after clearing them of enemy soldiers. US Marine Corps
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
U.S. Marines clearing out a cave on Iwo Jima. Pinterest
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Marines take cover as they begin their clime up Mount Suribachi. Scouting
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Marines torch a Japanese defensive position from a short distance with flamethrowers. The flamethrowers were an effective weapon for burning out entrenched Japanese fighters who would have otherwise fought to the death. funker530
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Mount Suribachi looming in the distance. US Marine Corp
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Sailors and Coast Guardsmen continued to land materials at the secure beachheads, giving the Marines more ammunition and other supplies. US Coast Guard Photagrapher’s Mate 2nd Class Paul Queenan
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Marines posing with a captured Japanese Flag. National Park Service
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
Flag Raising on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
When the Marines first took the summit, they flew an American flag they had carried up. When it was spotted by Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, Forrestal asked to keep it. The Marines gave him the flag and planted a second one in its place. US Marine Corps Staff Sergreant Louis Lowery
26 Photographs of the Heroes of Iwo Jima, Where Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue
This is the photograph Joe Rosenthal thought was going to have the most impact when his film reel went home. Little did he know that it was the image of the Marines raising the flag on Suribachi that would be a sensation. funker530

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