The Battle – The Land Battle

D-Day February 19, 1945 – Shortly before 2am on Feb. 19, 1945, the Navy’s big guns opened up on Iwo Jima again, signaling the beginning of D-Day. After an hour of punishment, the fire was lifted, leaving Iwo smoking as if the entire island were on fire.

Both Americans aboard their transports and the Japanese in their caves looked to the skies now. One-hundred-ten bombers screamed out of the sky to drop more bombs. After the planes left, the big guns of the Navy opened up again.

At 8:30am, the order, “Land the Landing Force,” sent the first wave of Marines towards the deadly shores. Once ashore, the Marines were bedeviled by the loose volcanic ash. Unable to dig foxholes, they were sitting ducks for the hidden Japanese gunners.

Heavy fire made it impossible to land men in an orderly manner. Confusion reigned on the beaches.

The battle was unique in its setting. One hundred thousand men fighting on a tiny island one-third the size of Manhattan. For 36 days Iwo Jima was one of the most populated 7.5 miles on earth.

Mt. Suribachi, the 550-foot volcanic cone at the islands southern tip, dominates both possible landing beaches. From here, Japanese gunners zeroed in on every inch of the landing beach. Blockhouses and pillboxes flanked the landing areas. Within, more heavy weapons stood ready to blast the attacking Marines. Machine guns criss-crossed the beaches with deadly interlocking fire. Rockets, anti-boat and anti-tank guns were also trained on the beaches.Every Marine, everywhere on the island was always in range of Japanese guns.

The Japanese were ready.

The invading US Marines fought above ground. The defending Japanese fought from below ground. The US Marines on Iwo rarely saw a Japanese soldier.

Historians described U.S. forces’ attack against the Japanese defense as “throwing human flesh against reinforced concrete.”

There were no front lines. The Marines were above ground and the Japanese were below them underground. The Marines rarely saw an alive Japanese soldier. The Japanese could see the Marines perfectly.

“Easy Company started with 310 men. We suffered 75% casualties. Only 50 men boarded the ship after the battle. Seven officers went into the battle with me. Only one–me–walked off Iwo.” . . . Captain Dave Severance, Easy Company Commander (the Flag Raising Company)

The battle was won by the inch-by-inch tenacity of the foot soldier.

Liquid gas, napalm and hand grenades were more useful against the underground Japanese.

{ 212 comments… read them below or add one }

cyndy July 8, 2014 at 11:52 am

PFC Jack Fossum was my moms cousin. he died march 2 1945 at Iwo Jima. she never got over his death. Jack, you are remembered with pride and love. we will never forget you.

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Steve April 3, 2014 at 10:08 am

Thanks to all the brave men who gave their lives so we can enjoy what freedoms we have today.thank you..

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nathan smithtro February 26, 2014 at 7:46 pm

my grand father was with the us 6 marines 1st platoon when he landed the japs didnt fire at the army when his company was ordered to move off the beach they fired his brother lost his head by a shell from his men in his boat landed him and 6 others made it out he even killed 34 japs by himself that day he sayed it was a nother version of hell

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Jauhn Hinkle February 20, 2014 at 10:57 pm

My dad will be 98 May 26. 5th Division, 27th regiment, H company. We’re curious as to whether anyone knows of an older survivor? There’s a ton of stuff on “Mr. Samowitz” who died at 99 last December, but nothing on who would hold that honor now…. Any help would be appreciated, commemorative this Saturday.
619-952-9141

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David Moore May 26, 2014 at 6:43 am

My wife’s dad is still alive, he was a Marine who went in on the 4th wave. He was on the island thirty some days and his feet rotted in his boots. He is at Covenant Village in Westminster, Colorado and his health is diminishing. His name is Richard Hitzeman. His company had about 80-90% casualties.

Not many of these guys left now.

David

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roger soule January 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm

My father, M. Philip Soule was in the 506th AAA US Army Gun Battalion “A” battery attached to the 3rd division Marines that landed on Iwo Feb 25th 1945. I don’t hear a lot about the Army’s involvement on the Island. My dad always talked highly of the Marines and enjoyed the reunions his unit had each year.

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Dan MacDonald April 28, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Roger,

Bob Kemp of Greensboro, NC, who died three years ago, is featured in two chapters of a book I’m writing. Bob was with Battery A at the foot of Suribachi on Iwo Jima. If your Dad was in Bob’s group, that means he got to Iwo on LST 84.

I would really like to correspond with you. Do you have any photos from your Dad’s time on Iwo?

I have access now to a number of photos from the two surviving members of the 506th on Iwo, or the only two I’m aware of, plus a good number from the son of James Weaver, who was a sailor aboard LST 84.

Please contact me,

Dan MacDonald

865-573-6981

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Lin East August 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm

As we get closer to VJ Day- we should all stop for a moment to thank every one of those brave men and women who saved the world- and also every one who has ever or is now serving. We owe them more than we know!

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Pvt. Miller July 12, 2013 at 2:44 am

thank god for those marines. i have always been into history and my favorite battle was iwo jima i have always been fascinated on how men and woman are able to make the greatest sacrifice giving up off your life for others but now i understand thank you marines of iwo jima

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Lin East June 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

God Bless all of our veterans as we remember the anniversary of D Day, June 6, 1944

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Dick Schweder March 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Growing up, most the kids in the neighborhood had fathers that served in WWII. (Both my parents served). My friend, Kelly’s father was on Iwo Jima. When I became an adult, Bill Survant went from authority figure to friend and I enjoyed for a couple, or three years a Saturday morning tradition of breakfast with him, Kelly, our brothers, nieces and nephews and children and my father. I’ll never forget one Sat. I asked Bill how he had such a positive outlook on life having seen the ugliness of that battle and others. I’ll never forget what he said. He said he recalled leaving the island and thinking from here on out the rest of life will be a piece of cake. Bill and my Father (European theater) are both gone and the Saturday breakfast with them. I miss them and think of them often and continue to be grateful for what they did.

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Karen Pearson Dyson May 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Hi,
Enjoyed reading your story, my brother Richard Pearson age 17 landed on Iwo Jima and was one of the machine gunners that protected the guys when they raised the flag. I think that out of that group only 23 survived. He was almost to small when he wanted to enlist but by about 1/2″ he made it. He was to come home on the 14 of March birthday 11th of March and was killed on the 13th of March age 18. I was only 7 yrs. old but remember veryly clearly the telegram coming and couldn”t figure why my mother was crying as she read it. He is buried in the Punchbowl
Cemetery in Honolulu as they moved them from Iwo after the war and she & dad didn’t want to go through the ordeal again so that is why they choose to put him in Hawaii. I haven’t been there to see his grave but hope to go before I join him in heaven.

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John Haas March 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm

My Dad was John F. Haas 4th Division 3rd 25th. He has long been passed, cancer took him in 10/27/1983 but I’m very proud of him. I don’t know if anyone has info concerning him or knew him it would be great to learn more. As with all the other brave Marines he just always said it was their duty and never talked much about it.

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Melissa Strout Kennedy February 19, 2013 at 6:39 am

My Dad Phillip F. Strout who is 93 years old was the Company sergeant for Easy Company 2/28th Marines. I would love to know if any of his fellow Easy Company friends are still alive! He still becomes very emotional when he begins to talk about the battle. I am so thankful for him and all the Marines that gave so much for our Country. I already called Dad to say thanks for going through such Hell on Iwo Jima to keep America Free!!! Love You Dad!!!

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Bart Ackerman June 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Melissa,
I would be greatly honored to talk to your Father. My Cousin, Cpl James E. Hagstrom, was in the 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2/28th Marines, 5th Marine Division – the same Company as your Father. Unfortuneatley, James was killed in action on 1 March. I believe Col. Severance, then Captain, the Company Commander is still alive and lives in San Diego. 5-6 of the members of the 3rd Platoon are still alive including the Plt Leader, Keith Wells, who lives in Texas. Here is a link to a photo of them. http://www.valorstudios.com/IwoJimaTheFirstFlag.htm

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Carol L. February 17, 2013 at 10:53 pm

My dad was on Iwo, Saipain, RoiNamur, Tinian. 4th division,
3-L-24. Name: Del Reiman. His nickname in civilian life was Sarge. Watching his best friend get blown up in a foxhole next to him never left his heart. He was always proud of the Marines & attended the reunions at Camp Pendleton. Passed away of cancer in 1990. His lifelong best friend was fellow Iwo Marine, George Furchtsam.
I believe he is still around. Dad somehow managed to be a tough but tender father. After what he saw & endured there, I don’t know how. God bless him & all Marines.

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Tom Cunningham February 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm

My father was 3rd Div Marine Staff Sergeant Robert L. Cunningham. He fought at Bougainville and Guam. When fighting he was in an artillery division and when not fighting was a mess sergeant, he passed away in 2006.Are there any comments or anyone that remembers my Dad? He said it was terrible.

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Robert Steele June 4, 2013 at 12:02 am

Hi,

My Father was also in the 3rd Marine Division throughout WWII. He was also a mess sgt who fought on Bouganville and Guam, Iwo, etc. My father also has past. His name was Don Steele. We’ll miss him every day.

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William D. Shaffer January 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm

My father William B. Shaffer, Cpl, served with the 3rd Div.21 Reg.
He past away 29 Sept 2012. I see that there are some other sons
that had relatives on Iwo Jima, Guam, and Bougainville. My father was an aide to Col William D. Bassett, who I was named after. If anyone knew of my father please contact me. I do have a number of pictures. One of his proudest moments came when his grandson Cpl J.V Shaffer was an escort on the 59th anniversary on Iwo and brought him back some sand. Thanks to all that serve….

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Terry January 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm

My father also passed away in December. He was in the 5th Marine Division, 2/28 Battalion, F Company. He was a great father and he also had his experiences there documented. His name is Harry J. Kelley.

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RAY DEPOTIE January 20, 2013 at 5:55 am

COLD NIGHT HERE IN THE UPPER PENNISULA ON JAN 18 2013.l READ ALL COMMENTS ABOUT IWO JIMA ON THIS WEB SITE. AMAZINGLY TOUCHING ,VERY WONDERFULL PEOPLE HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT OUR GREAT GUYS OF WORLD WAR TWO. WE THANK YOU. I AM A FORMER MARINE AND VERY PROUD TO BE A UNITED STATES CITIZEN. ALL VETERANS ARE TO BE HONORED FOR THERE TIME IN OUR BRANCHES OF SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY. ALL WHO HAVE WORN THE UNIFORM AND PRESENTLY WEAR THE UNIFORM ARE TO BE THANKED FOR ARE GREAT COUNTRY,NOT THE POLITICIANS WHO GREED AT ONE OTHER. THE REAL LEADERS OF THIS COUNTRY ARE IN UNIFORM. SEMPER TO ALL. RAY

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Kristi Buchholz January 17, 2013 at 12:47 am

From what I just recently found, my uncle PFC Merle E Lorenzen known as RED served in Iwo Jima in 1945 and was fallen March 7 1945 at 19 yrs old.
He was in the 9th Marine 3rd Marine division , was just wondering if anyone in this division would have known about him. Such a long time ago, but never know when you may come accross someone knowing something. Thank you

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frank January 4, 2013 at 7:08 pm

My grandfather joe scutaro from Brooklyn. Just passed away he served on iwo jima and was awarded two purple hearts if any one here knew please email

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billy April 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm

im sorry for your loss of your grandfather. congrats to him for earning 2 purple hearts. god bless you and your family

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Lin East December 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Here are some photos that were given to national Geographic
http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-pac/iwojima/iwo-3w1.htm.

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Maynard J Henning October 22, 2012 at 12:39 am

I am 72 years old now,and follow WWII, because so many of us that did serve, remember why so many young men fought fought for us.
Their gallantry,courage,and dedication saved our America.
So many died for us,lest we can say is “Thank You”.God bless all
service men,living or passed.There are no words to really express
our gratitude.Just where would we be,without them.
Vietnam Era Veteran. Maynard Jay Henning

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Gerald Taylor January 20, 2013 at 2:06 am

I don’t believe war is a good answer regardless of the question. Many relatives died in service and one survived Nam, but came back a bit undone. God bless you all, as for politicans I can not say

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Trevor A James December 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Thank you for your service. it is awesome that people like you are still around. I’m 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. I will never know what war feels like because i was born with one eye, but that doesn’t stop me from sympathizing with you guys.
Thank you,
Trevor James

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Clifford October 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I have to say thanks to those Marines out there who put their life on the line for our freedom THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS THOSE MARINES

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Mike Rapkoch September 25, 2012 at 3:34 am

Hi:

My Dad, who died in 2001, was a sergent in a JASCO outfit on Roy-Namur, Saipan, and Iwo Jima. His name is Marcellus Rapkoch but he was known as “Sell.” If anyone knows of him, or is familiar with JASCO, I would appreciate hearing from them.

Also, my nephew, a Captain in the Marine Corp, is shipping out for his 2nd tour in Afghanistan shortly. Please pray for him and his men.

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Orv Banasik December 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Mike,
I am a researcher doing research on 1st JASCO. you can contact me at 319-377-7784 or banasik @aol.com

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Tom Duescher June 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Military records of the marines that served on Iwo Jima are located at the national Archives in St. Louis, MO.

We just picked up the full set of records of my Wife’s Uncle who was killed on Iwo Jima on March 6, 1945

I recommend photographing all pages of the personnel file with a good quality camera. They have a camera stand for researcher use. I took 181 images of 2 family veteran files that served in WWII.

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bob August 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm

My Uncle Warren Oswald also killed in action on March 6, 1945. He gave his life on Iwo Jima 21st Marines 3rd Marine Division

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David Maher September 26, 2012 at 7:18 am

My uncle Creighton Kelley died on Iwo Jima on March 5, 1945. He was also in the 21st Marines 3rd Marine Division. Does anyone here have any information on him?

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james thurman October 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Yeah he was with Ira Hayes the comander of the 3rd division i was ira’s best man and i didn’t know your uncle so like i said to every one i knew ira hayes’

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Philip Champagne January 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I did not know that Ira was with the third nor that he was a commander. He was a paratrooper and what you say lends credence to the belief that Ira was the Marine who put the fire out on my Father’s face with his bare hands. Dad was with the 3rd and was shooting a harpoon gun when his beard caught fire. He is the flamethrower pictured at the end of the film.

Don kjos December 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Hello

My Father was also in the 21st Marines 3rd Marine Division that fought on Iwo Jima, Bouganville & Guam. He was on a transport ship called USS Bolivar. He survived all the battles dmd dirf in 1992. His name is Alfred G. Kjos and ,my mother said he told her he also knew Ira Hayes. Does anyone know of my father and served with him in any of these battles or have any photos of the 21st on Iwo or any other photos. I am trying to find anything I can on my dads life. I did get his military records from the Military Archive in St. Louis. Please contact me by e-mail if anyone knew him.

God Bless to all the Marines that served in WW11 past and present for your sacrafice to god and country. You will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to all the military veterans on this historic day Dec 7, 2012. Thanks to our courageous military men & women out there who put their lives on the line for our freedom everyday…THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU!

ryan June 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm

My great grandfather, Sgt. Marshall Leroy Newman, fought on Iwo Jima. If anyone has any information on his military career, please help. He told us stories of Guam and Guadacanal, but he wouldn’t say more about Iwo, other than he was there. If anyone can help, please do. God Bless the Marine Corps

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Dan Zepeda August 31, 2012 at 8:37 am

Ryan, My name is Dan Zepeda, i am a Former Marine and I do alot of research on the battle, and I belong to the “Iwo Jima Commemorative Banquet Committee” out of Camp Pendleton, Ca. We put on a Reunion each year for the Survivors of the Battle every Febuary. So maybe I can help you in your quest.
Do you know his unit and what Division he was in? I see where he landed at Guadacanal & Guam, most likely with the 1st Marine Division, & I would gather to say he most likely served with the 5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima. Lots of Sgt.’s were transferd to the 5th MarDiv. to train new men, the 5th MarDiv. had it’s only battle of WWII at Iwo Jima.
Looking foward to hearing from you soon…..Semper Fi
Dan

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Les Carlyle December 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Dan:
Can you give me a number to call regarding tickets for the 2012 Iwo banquet at Camp Pendleton?

Les Carlyle
760-288-3288
Iwo Vet

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sherry johnson June 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm

My dad William “Bill” Brandt from West Virginia served in the 4th marine divisoin, 14th marines as a surveyer and I know he carried field glasses and a 30 calibre carbine. I am assuming he was a spotter for artillery. Like many others he did not talk much about Iwo. He was a good Dad but would never take us to the beach. We talked him into going to the beach one time. I was walking with him early one morning down the beach and I asked him why he did not like the beach. He told me that when he looked at the ocean he could smell
and see the dead bodies floating in the ocean. We never asked him
to go to the beach after that time. He died in 2002 at age 81 and had a happy, healthy life. I am sure like my dad, many of those brave men suffered in silence from war memories. I have pictures that he saved from Hastings NE, Hawaii and pacific Islands of Siapan, Tinnian and Iwo Jima. I would love to communicate with any one who has information on the 14th marines or may have known of my
dad. Sherry Johnson sherto@comporium.net

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