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Return to Iwo Jima: 65 Years Later

Sixty-five years ago a force of 70,000 U.S. Marines fought and won a pitched battle against Japanese forces on the island of Iwo Jima, a rocky and uninhabited stretch of earth 750 miles to the south of Tokyo. Some U.S. 6,800 troops died in the effort, which raged for five weeks in February and March of 1945. Veterans of the bloody fight return each year to the site of their triumph, in which they killed about 20,000 Japanese troops.

Iwo Jima

U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945. Strategically located only 660 miles from Tokyo, the Pacific island became the site of one of the bloodiest, most famous battles of World War II against Japan.

AP1945

Iwo Jima

U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment of the Fifth Division raise the American flag after capturing the 550-foot Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, the largest Volcano Islands of Japan, on Feb. 23, 1945 during World War II. 

AP

Iwo Jima

A U.S. Marine from the 5th Division of the 28th Regiment stands guard atop Mt. Suribachi at Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands of Japan as others hoist the American flag during World War II, Feb. 23, 1945. This was the first flag raised by the Marine Corps at Iwo Jima, a second larger one was raised later that day.

1945 AP

Iwo Jima

Platoon Sgt. Ernest Ivy Thomas Jr. of Tallahassee, Fla., has been identified as the U.S. Marine who raised the American flag on top of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima during the battle for the volcanic island Feb. 23, 1945. 

He took charge of his platoon after his lieutenant was wounded and led his men to the crest of the mountain under heavy enemy fire. 

AP

Iwo Jima

An attack on one of the caves connected to a three-tier blockhouse destroys the structure on the edge of Turkey Nob, giving a clear view of the beachhead toward the southwest on Iwo Jima, as U.S. Marines storm the island, April 2, 1945.

AP

Iwo Jima

Two buddies support this Fifth Division Marine as they help him towards the rear lines after a Jap mortar shell landed beside his position in Iwo Jima, Japan on March 4, 1945.

AP

Iwo Jima

Graves of 5th Division Marines killed during bitter fighting are marked by simple white crosses in this cemetery on Iwo Jima, Japan on March 23, 1945.

AP1945

Iwo Jima

A Marine demolitions man hugs the ground to escape flying debris after setting off a high explosive charge to blast a Japanese Pillbox on Iwo Jima, Japan on March 2, 1945. After their capture, many of these positions had to be destroyed lest the enemy return to the shelters and open fire on the Marine flanks.

AP1945

Iwo Jima

During the invasion on Iwo Jima, in February 1945, advancing U.S. Marines spot a Japanese machine gun nest ahead of them. One of the men is establishing its location on the map, so they can forward the information to artillery or mortar units to wipe out these positions. 

AP

Iwo Jima

A U.S. Air Force bomber plane is shown in the air as numerous fires rage on Iwo Jima, below, in the Bonin Islands, Japan, in Oct. 1944 during World War II. Liberators of the 7th USAAF attacked the island in a bomb raid. 

AP

Iwo Jima

U.S. Marines from Easy Company take the flags up on Mt. Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945.

IwoJima.com

Iwo Jima

U.S. Marines are shown after the flag is raised on Mt. Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945.

IwoJima.com

Iwo Jima Map

This is the operations map of Iwo Jima that was prepared on Oct. 23, 1944.

National Imagery and Mapping Agency

Iwo Jima

This undated photo provided by USMC Photographer Douglas Page shows U.S. Marines landing on the beaches of Iwo Jima.

USMC Photographer Douglas Page

Iwo Jima

This undated photo shows a cemetery made for U.S. Marines at Iwo Jima.

USMC Photographer Douglas Page

Iwo Jima

GRAPHIC: This undated photo shows the charred bodies of Japanese soldiers.

USMC Photographer Douglas Page

Iwo Jima

This undated photo shows a U.S. tank using a flamethrower as it goes after Japanese soldiers.

IwoJima.com

Iwo Jima

Photo shows U.S. Marines trying to defend themselves against the Japanese, who were fighting them below ground.

IwoJima.com

Iwo Jima

U.S. Marines storm the beaches of Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.

IwoJima.com

Iwo Jima

Marines get ready to invade Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.

IwoJima.com

Iwo Jima

Marines get ready to storm the beaches at Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945.

IwoJima.com

Return to Iwo Jima: 65 Years Later

Sixty-five years ago a force of 70,000 U.S. Marines fought and won a pitched battle against Japanese forces on the island of Iwo Jima, a rocky and uninhabited stretch of earth 750 miles to the south of Tokyo. Some U.S. 6,800 troops died in the effort, which raged for five weeks in February and March of 1945. Veterans of the bloody fight return each year to the site of their triumph, in which they killed about 20,000 Japanese troops.

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