Skip to comments.Iwo Jima: ‘The Ghastly Price of Freedom’
Posted on 02/21/2014 3:11:14 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
This Wednesday, February 19, marked the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. One of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific War and all of World War II, the month-long slug-fest between American and Japanese forces in many ways set the stage for the firebombing of Japan and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the final stages of the fighting, an iconic picture was taken of U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman raising an American flag atop Mount Surabachi, an image that perfectly captured American resolve and military strength.
The men that raised the flag were Cpl. Harlon Block, Navy Pharmacists Mate John Bradley, Cpl. Rene Gagnon, PFC Franklin Sousley, Sgt. Michael Strank, and Cpl. Ira Hayes. Strank, Sousley, and Block were killed before the fighting ended. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal won a Pulitzer Prize for the photograph, and it became the inspiration for the Iwo Jima memorial in Washington, D.C....
(Excerpt) Read more at breitbart.com ...
President Ronald Reagan:
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same,
or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children
and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
Would that it weren’t unnecessary.
Iwo Jima should have been bypassed.
Funny. Paul Fussell is quite antiwar and rather anti US, as most academics. A genius in the field of literature and poetry. Everything he writes is well written and worth reading.
Saved my dad’s life. He was wrapping things up on Okinawa when they were dropped. Where do you think his next stop would’ve been?
One of the reasons Iwo was taken was to be an emergency landing field for the B-29’s that were bombing Japan. Before the island was secured, several of our planes made emergency landings there. The decision was made at the time with the conditions that existed at the time.
They raised the flag twice ofcourse. I talked to a pipefitter that was at Iwo Jima and he told me that he fashioned a flag staff but he never knew if it is the one pictured.
I tried to buy the man a drink and I thanked him for his service but he told me he didn’t do anything and that I didn’t need to buy him a drink.
My father too. He was already beginning to train for the invasion of Japan.
He is 88 now.
My Dad was a Pharmacist's Mate i.e. Corpsman i.e. Medic in that invasion. He was only on Iwo for the first six days, but on day one was mortared back into the Pacific and had to land again an hour later.
He accompanied a dying Marine back to his transport (USS Mellette) on the sixth or seventh day. They had so many wounded men to care for that his Chief said, "You aren't going anywhere." He said he didn't argue the point. It was something like 96 hours before he was able to try sleeping again.
That iconic picture was taken about day 3 of a five week battle, not at the closing stages. The plan was that Iwo would be captured in about 3 days. My Dad said you can't imagine the euphoria that waved among the Navy and Marine men when that flag started to wave. Still, the issue had barely begun.
My Dad had a bazillion great sea stories. Some may have been true. I never sensed exaggeration in his stories of the harshness of that invasion.
God bless your father. He was a hero.
Mine passed in 2002.
Former Marine here, don't have half the cred that he does- but it always feels weird when people do that. I understand his answer.
After duty one day in the Eighties I made the mistake of wandering into a Country bar in my summer-service charlies. Was tired, grumpy and thirsty. Meant to have one or two and go home and get out of my clothes and switch off.
I crawled in the door of the condo I was renting with a civvie friend at about 1:00 AM with the same amount of money in my wallet that I had when I secured from duty. Anytime my hand went anywhere near my wallet, someone I'd never met would put a reload in my paw. I want country bar people as my A-Gunners, next time around. LOL
You are correct on the timing of the flag raising. Most folks are completely clueless about the reason for taking Iwo. It was a forward operating base for P-51 Mustangs to escort the B-29’s to Japan on bombing missions. I got to talk to one of the first Mustang pilots to land there. About 1 month into the operation the few remaining Japanese swarmed the airbase at dawn. It was bloody hand to hand combat. Mustang pilots, mechanics and staff vs. Japanese infantry.
Living history — another reason I love FR.
Too many negs in the first sentence, too much past-posting in the second. It should've been gassed; it wasn't, should've been prepped longer; it wasn't. Men taking it had no say, but they took it anyway.
A lot of folk miss the tactical significance of Suribachi being taken out of the Japanese inventory.
The Mt. gave the Japanese overwatch on the entire island, including the beaches. It was also a fortified platform with much artillery in armored bunkers and caves from which the guns could fire.
When the mt. fell, a significant portion of the indirect fire, heavy arty, was lifted from the beaches which allowed greater log flow to the Marines ashore.
It also deprived the Japanese from an observation post from which all USMC movements ashore could be watched and reported.
For those interested, Lions of Iwo Jima is a good read.
My uncle, my mom’s baby brother, was 17 years old.
He was the second wave to hit the beach on that first day. After surviving, one of his jobs was to guard the bodies of the dead, so their belongings would not be stolen.
He committed suicide in his mid thirties, leaving behind his young wife and two small children. He never recovered from the horrors of that day.
Yes, most on FR truly love our military.
One of my father’s close high school friends was in the Airborne. He jumped behind the lines in Normandy, into Holland and was trucked into the Bulge. Wife and I became very close friends with he and his wife when he was doing his Doctorate work. Wife and I were just finishing college.
He was one tough little guy. They lived in AK for many years, then retired back in Texas.
When his widow needed to move into a care home, we bought their house. Still live in it.
My grandmother’s only brother died at the Battle of the Bulge, age 19. So incomprehensible to think of those kinds of casualties now.... hundreds or thousands of men every battle.
That’s the way it should be.
Thanks for your service, FRiend.
I've always wondered if that was true or another one of the rationalizations someone came up with after the fact. I do realize, however, that since very few people knew about the bomb the island was taken with a much longer and more costly air campaign in mind. The aircrew casualties they were expecting are another group of lives the bomb spared.
I figured it out once, a man was killed every 7.4 minutes on Iwo Jima for 35 days, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Yeah, my dad also. He was Infantry on a troop ship, surrounded by cruisers and carriers to the horizon, sailing around in circles ready to invade Japan when the atomic bombings were announced.
In August 2002 I was able to thank Paul Tibbets, Pilot of Enola Gay, for what he did. He replied: “Glad your father was able to come home! I appreciate your contacting me!” I still have the printout of the email.
Ah, feel weird again.
Good story for you. I am in the DC area and ride a motorcycle. When I rode in Rolling Thunder the year before last, I got off of the track at the end and ended up on surface streets, feeling my way back toward the Thunder Alley area. At one point I had to park, cool off and water down. I bumped into some Aussies (God bless ‘em) who were here on their first visit to the US. The husband was very frank. “I never wanted to come to the US. I got talked into it. But I have to admit, I wish that Oz held their veterans in the same regard that Americans do”.
I was moved by that.
When I ride Rolling Thunder, I’m on the road early-early. Even when it’s chilly and barely light, riding I-395 up towards the Pentagon, there’ll be civilians on the overpasses, up out of their warm beds, with American flags, out there with their whole families, waving to me.
My goggles have some kind of issue, they get blurry. I remember thinking, these are my people. This is my tribe.
I couldn’t be more proud of them.
There were 21,000+/- Japanese when the US Marines went ashore, When the island was declared secure there were less than 1000 Japanese that had surrendered or were taken prisoner left alive. “History of United States Naval Operations in WWII by ADM Samuel Eliot Morison volume XIV”. First chapter of a thick analog book.
Honor, Duty, Country.
I would add Family.
These are concepts that are being undermined by the left.
They attack our military and gun owners as if those are the people that bring death.
They don’t understand.
They embrace the death cult of abortion and communism as if their version of killing is more honorable than the altruism of those that fight and die for Liberty.
They don’t understand this concept.
Same with my father. I am certain your father, mine and countless thousands of other American servicemen would not have survived. Nuking Japan saved millions of lives on both sides.
Another error in the Brietbart piece...they use an early photo that identified Henry Hansen as one of the flag-raisers, not Harlan Block. It actually took more than a year to correct that mistake. Hansen actually took part in the first flag-raising, and that ensign was replaced a short time later by larger flag, raised by Strank, Sousley, Gagnon, Hayes, Bradley and Block.
Admiral Nimitz said it best: Iwo was a place where “uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
Along with being a staging base for P-51s escorting B-29s over Japan, Iwo was also an emergency field for Superforts that were damaged and unable to make it back to their bases on Guam and neighboring islands.
The first battle-damaged B-29 landed on Iwo while the battle was still raging. The aircrew jumped out of the plane, and kissed the ground, happy to be on land and not in the Pacific. A group of Marines that witnessed the celebration shook their heads in disbelief
The US gave Iwo back to the Japanese years ago. I was against this as the price we paid for it was too dear.
The Japanese considered Saipan to be their own, and had a decent sized Japanese civilian pop there, iirc.
It is staggering. The casualties of past wars boggle the imagination.
I had an uncle die at Anzio.
I had an uncle that survived Iwo Jima. He never talked about the war...but for some reason a couple of months before he died...he wanted to talk. He talked about how hard the landing was and how almost impossible the invasion was. But they won.
I hung up the phone and cried.
I believe they also had crippled bombers land on the captured airfields while the battle was in progress.
My neighbor an anti-nuke lefty was on his way to Japan. Seventeen at the time. Saved his sorry ass.
He was a gentleman in all his business dealings, he simply exuded honest character.
Not a bad argument. Boils down to hindsight being 20/20. Too many bosses with different agendas
my great uncle died on Iwo Jima.
God bless you Sir, and Semper Fi.
My brother was killed on Okinawa. A few months later I was on Leyte getting outfitted for the invasion of Japan. I was very angry about my brothers death and can honestly say I was looking for revenge. However,some common sense thinking told me the bombs were good for our side, so no regrets to this day as to use of the bombs. I have no sympathy for the people of Japan at that time.
I've often been terrified that I would not have had the sand needed to do what these guys did and keep moving forward straight into the fire of hell. Those of us who were never "there" probably can't fathom in our worst nightmare what hell really looks like.
Your uncle paid the ultimate price because he did what he had to do at the time in his life when he was really needed. That sentiment is for every man or woman who faces his or her crucible and keeps forging ahead when that crucible becomes his or her destination.
That is a great story. If there was ever a reason I would ride a motorcycle, it would be with Rolling Thunder.
They are indeed being undermined by the Left. Damn all of them. All of them.
It was also an early warning outpost for raids and a base for fighters that attacked the inbound and outbound bombers. Could it have been bypassed? Probably, with the acceptance of greater Air Corps casualties. Would those casualties have equaled the Marine Corps and Navy casualties in taking the island? We can argue now until the cows come home, but remember in February 1945 the atomic bomb had still not been tested, and it was not known how long the bombing campaign would continue.