Today in History: Raising the American Flag atop Mount Suribachi

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Today in history February 23, 1945:

1945 U.S. Marines plant an American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

Via Today In History. What Happened This Day In History – Facts Of The Day

As a former Marine this moment in time lives in infamy. Here is an excerpt describing the event:

The Marines and their multiservice supporting arms killed about 20,000 Japanese on the island during the battle, and the troops captured nearly 1,100 prisoners. That success came at an appalling cost to the Marines. Altogether, the V Amphibious Corps sustained 24,053 casualties in the fight. More than 6,000 men died. The total casualty count represented the equivalent loss of two standard divisions. The overall casualty rate was about 30 percent of forces employed, but many rifle battalions surpassed 75 percent. As Private Muscarella recalled, ‘There were no good days, and we lost a hell of a lot of people. Hell, I didn’t know who the company skipper was, or who the battalion commander was.’ By D-plus-35, few Marines did.

News of the casualties and savagery of Iwo Jima shocked the American public. The Hearst newspapers demanded that Nimitz and Spruance be replaced by General MacArthur, ‘a general who looks after his troops.’ But there was hardly time to indulge in recrimination. The invasion of Okinawa began four days after Iwo Jima fell. That campaign was equally bloody and savage. Ahead, presumably, lay the assault on the Japanese home islands themselves. The long, bloody road to Tokyo looked costlier than ever.

Seizing Iwo Jima achieved all the strategic goals desired by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. American B-29s could henceforth fly with less reserve fuel and a greater bomb payload, knowing Iwo Jima would be available as an emergency field. Iwo-based fighters escorted the Superfortresses to and from Honshu. For the first time, all the Japanese islands were within bomber range, including Hokkaido. Was all this worth the cost? One surviving Marine Corps officer thinks the question is still moot: ‘We saved a lot of airplanes, but whether it was worth the Marine lives to save Air Force planes, I don’t know.’

The 2,400 Army Air Force pilots who were forced to land at Iwo Jima between its capture and V-J Day had no doubts. Said one, ‘Whenever I land on this island, I thank God and the men who fought for it.’ 

If you have the time, please read about how important this victory truly was during World War II.

Be thankful for those who sacrificed for us.