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.

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. It was a physical war.

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

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

244 thoughts on “The Battle – The Land Battle

  1. Candelario Trevino, Col USMCR. (Retired)

    My uncle Pvt. Armando H Felix was with F Company 2/26, 5th MarDiv. He was WIA in the vicinity of Hill 362. He died of wounds aboard the USS Bountiful. I grow up with all the USMC memorabilia which convinced me to join. Sad that we are losing so many of the Iwo Jima veterans and the history with them.

    Reply

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