75th Anniversary of Iwo Jima

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75th Anniversary of Iwo Jima

First, from Yahoo News:

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Iwo Jima, which saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War Two take place on a small Japanese island 1,200 km (745 miles) south of Tokyo.

Iwo Jima was the first native Japanese soil to be invaded during the Allied advance. Located halfway between Tokyo and Guam, it was regarded as a strategic outpost. Close to 7,000 U.S. Marines and nearly all of the 21,000 Japanese defenders of the island died during the 36-day battle.

The Japanese troops held the heavily fortified island for more than a month, supported by a network of bunkers and tunnels and hidden artillery positions.

From Feb. 19, 1945, over 500 warships and 1,000 warplanes from the U.S. navy and army pounded Iwo Jima so heavily that the shelling and bombing changed the shape of the island's highest point, Mount Suribachi, located at its southern tip.

The Washington Post has a story on Woody Williams, who as you know is one of my favorite people:

The Japanese soldiers came out of their concrete “pill box” with bayonets fixed, determined to get the Marine who had been killing them all afternoon with a flamethrower.

Their target was Hershel Williams. He was 5-foot-6, the youngest of the 11 children of a dairy farmer from Quiet Dell, W.Va. He had a nice smile, and a girl back home named Ruby whom he planned to marry when the war was over.

He was 21, and known as “Woody.”

But 75 years ago this month, on a Godforsaken volcanic island in the Pacific called Iwo Jima, he was a terrifying destroyer of the Japanese, incinerating men in their hideouts with jets of blazing diesel fuel and high octane gasoline.

They had to stop him.

Not to ruin the ending, but yeah, they didn't stop him.

Now there are two things I need to share for anyone who wants to know more about Iwo.  The first is this excellent documentary that has some incredible footage:

And the second is this page by the U.S. Naval Institute which has some great articles.  Be advised that some are behind a paywall, but if you search around there are some very interesting ones that are not, including this piace that has a pretty awesome anecdote:

On 17 October 2019, former Secretary of Defense and retired Marine General James Mattis delivered the keynote address at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City. Toward the end of his speech, he spoke of when Marine infantry battalions in April 2004 stood ready to assault into Fallujah, Iraq. “When one Marine thought I was out of ear shot,” Mattis said, “I heard him ask his squad leader ‘Do you think it’s going to be tough?’ And the squad leader replied in a corporal’s vernacular . . . ‘Hush and get some rest, we took Iwo Jima. Fallujah won’t be nothing.”

Faced as we are with deep political divisions, vitriolic public discourse, and emerging threats from across the oceans, Mattis aimed to remind his audience that Americans have overcome greater adversities than the ones we currently face. He did so in Marine fashion by referencing Iwo Jima the same way Marines have done for generations: as a reminder of what is expected of them and as a measure for their resolve and faithfulness. If the Marines, and by extension, the American people, can achieve victory at Iwo Jima and in World War II, they can do anything. Therefore, the enduring significance of Iwo Jima is how it reminds us what American unity can accomplish.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.