To the Shores of Iwo Jima -1945


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Academy Award Nominee. Four cameramen were killed and ten were wounded while filming this documentary. "The toughest 26 Days in Marine Corps history." The Japanese spent 20 years turning the 8 square mile island rock of Iwo Jima into The Gibraltar of the Pacific, honeycombed with miles of deep tunnels, pill boxes, block houses and gun emplacements sheltered in galleries dug deep into Mount Suribachi. Located roughly half way between the Marianas & Japan, Iwo was a valuable piece of real estate for a number of reasons. 1) The Japanese were using it as an air base for costly raids on B-29 bases in the Marianas. 2) Once seized, it could be used as an emergency strip for landing crippled B-29s who otherwise couldn't make it home 3) The airstrip was close enough to Japan to allow long range P-51 fighters to escort B-29s round trip & attack target of opportunity in Southern Japan. Starting on June 15, 1944, the US Army Air Force and US Navy bombed and shelled the island for nine moths, but when Marines of the 3rd, 4th & 5th Divisions landed on February 15th, Japanese defenses were largely intact, pouring withering fire on the beaches. What followed was what one Marine described as 26 days in Hell. 70,000 US Marines & Navy Seabees faced off against dug in Japanese forces, who rarely surrendered or retreated. Of the 22,060 Japanese soldiers entrenched on the island, 18,844 died either from fighting or by ritual suicide. Only 216 were captured during the course of battle. The Marines suffered 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded.

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