On the morning of 19 February 1945 underwater demolition teams, known as frogmen were dispatched to make their way to the island of Iwo Jima; a four-mile-long, eight square mile island. The United States had been raiding the island with B-24 and B-25 bombers for 74 days. The Marine frogmen made their way onto the island and several Japanese battalions opened fire on them from their vantage point on Mount Suribachi, killing 550 and wounding more than 1,800. Mount Suribachi is a 550-foot volcanic cone where the Japanese were able to view every inch of the island, giving them the upper hand in the fight. Japanese soldiers were also fighting from below the ground in blockhouses and pillboxes which lined the landing areas making it virtually impossible for the US Marines to know where the machine gun fire was coming from. There was no front line, no rear line, the entire island was a battleground. The Marines weren’t deterred and were eventually able to capture Mount Suribachi and raise the American Flag, an event which was captured by journalists and has now become a famous photograph.
Iwo Jima was the only Marine battle where the American casualties, some 26,000 exceeded the Japanese casualties, almost all of the 22,000 defending the island. Approximately 6,800 Americans were killed. As General James L. Jones, 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps, said, “The valor and sacrifice of the Marines and Sailors who fought on Iwo Jima is, today and forever, the standard by which we judge what we are and what we might become.”