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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

US Marines Land on Iwo Jima

This Day in History: February 19, 1945

Amphibious tractors approaching Iwo Jima, February 1945
Source: The Navy Department Library
In four days will be the commemoration of a pivotal event in American history. An event that has been immortalized for generations to come. That day, of course, will be celebrated on its on accord. For today, we will examine the launching of the five-week battle that comprised some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the War in the Pacific of World War II: Operation Detachment.

The target: Iwo Jima

One might wonder why so much interest in a barren Pacific Island. Thoughts would have to shift from what might be envisioned as Pacific paradise to its strategic location in times of war. The island was heavily guarded by Japanese artillery. Its location made it prime real estate for American troops, especially in light of the mainland of Japan being only 660 miles away and within range of bombing raids.

Japanese 120 mm gun after the battle on Iwo Jima (knocked-out prior to D-Day)
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
Americans pressured the Japanese defense of the island in February a year earlier with the longest pre-invasion bombardment of the war. The Japanese were sneaky. After 20 years of preparation and numbers averaging 21,000, they fortified the island -- above and below ground. It was deemed the most heavily fortified island in the world. Their network of tunnels and caves was astounding of which American troops could be on top of without slightest hint of imminent danger. What did we do? Dispatched "frogmen" to approach the shoreline right before the invasion. When the trap doors opened readying and firing the machine guns, the Japanese gave away many of their strategic positions. Now, who was the sneaky one!

Marines from the 24th Marine Regiment during the Battle of Iwo Jima
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
On the morning of February 19, 1945, the US Navy began firing upon the island preparing the way for the amphibious landings of the US Marines. As the marines made their way to the island, they were bombarded by seven battalions of Japanese lying in wait. By the end of this day, casualties numbered more than 550 marines with over 1800 wounded. This was just the beginning of a long and bloody battle!

The battleship USS New York firing its 356 mm (14.0 in)
main guns on the island, 16 February 1945
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

LVTs approach Iwo Jima.
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
This invasion was the first American attack on Japanese home territory, and the Japanese soldiers and marines defended their positions tenaciously with no thought of surrender.

Never forget, when they fight, they fight for YOU - America's freedom and YOUR freedom! A day should never go by without supporting our troops who put themselves in harm's way on any given day at any given time.

Related Articles:

D-Day: 19 February 1945

Battle of Iwo Jima