War and Conflict

The War in the Pacific

What happened on Iwo Jima?

During the month of February 1945 Allied forces and the Japanese fought for control of Iwo Jima, a small island in the northwest Pacific Ocean, 759 miles south of Tokyo. Japan was using Iwo Jima as a base from which to launch air attacks on U.S. bombers in the Pacific. Capturing the island from the Japanese became a key objective for the United States. On February 19, 1945, the Fourth and Fifth U.S. Marine Divisions invaded the island. Fighting over the next several days claimed more than 6,000 U.S. troops. On the morning of February 23, after a rigorous climb to the top of Mount Suribachi (Iwo Jima’s 550-foot inactive volcano), U.S. Marines planted an American flag. Though small, it was visible from around the island. Later that day, a larger flag was raised atop Mount Suribachi by five marines and a navy hospital corpsman. The moment was captured by American news photographer Joe Rosenthal. His famous photo became the inspiration for the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial (dedicated November 10, 1954) in Arlington, Virginia.


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