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Photograph. Mount Surabachi, Iwo Jima, Ogasawara Islands. 1945
The invasion of Iwo Jima began on February 19, 1945, and continued to March 26, 1945. The battle was a major initiative of the Pacific Campaign in World War II.
The Marine invasion, known as "Operation Detachment", main objective was the capturing of the airfields on the island, which up until then had prevented U.S. bombing missions to Tokyo. Strategically once island was secured the bases, could then be of use in the as key rallying point for the proposed invasion of the Japanese mainland.
The battle was one the fiercest in the Pacific theater. The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified, with vast bunkers, hidden artillery, and 18 kilometers (11 mi) of tunnels. The battle was the first U.S. attack on the Japanese Home Islands and the Imperial soldiers defended their positions tenaciously. Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers present at the beginning of the battle, over 19,000 were killed and only 1,083 taken prisoner.
One of the first objectives after landing on the beachhead was the taking of Mount Suribachi and raising of a flag on the peak, the photograph of six Marines raising the United States flag on the fourth day of the battle (February 23) became an iconic photo of the battle, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography that same year. It is regarded as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war and probably one of the most recognizable photo in United States Marine Corp history.
“The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.” James Vincent Forrestal (February 15, 1892 – May 22, 1949) Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense.
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