Iwo Jima Essay

Submitted By coozart
Words: 1794
Pages: 8

Christian Cousart
Mrs. Provenza
English 1
29 March 2012
The Battle of Iwo Jima:
1. Iwo Jima, a tiny island in the North Pacific, marked the spot for one of WWII’s most bloody and decisive battles. The battle of Iwo Jima was costly for both the U. S. Marines and the Imperial Japanesearmy. Iwo Jima is a small, barren, volcanic, cold, unforgiving, but not useless, rock that no one had ever heard of. The Japanese defended Iwo Jima down to the last man while the U. S. Marines persevered under heavy losses. Iwo Jima was a very strategically important island and both the U. S. and the Japanese knew it. The United States had been fighting a brutal island-hopping campaign in the Pacific after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The U. S. had been losing thousands of young men in the Pacific, and Admirals Nimitz and Spruance had been trying to take only necessary, strategic positions to avoid loss of life. B-29 bombers were taking heavy casualties from Japanese anti-aircraft guns and fighters stationed on Iwo Jima. An American captured of Iwo Jima could prevent losses of U. S. bombers and provide fighter escorts for the bombers on the way to Tokyo (Ross 14). General Marshall ordered that the island be taken by mid-January, 1945 (Ross 16). Emperor Hirohito personally selected General Kuribayashi to take charge of the island. As early as 1943, Japan started to fortify Iwo Jima and to make it impregnable. In 1943 the Japanese stationed 5,170 troops, 52 fighters, 14 coastal defense guns, 13 heavy artillery pieces, 4,652 rifles, over 200 machine guns, and 30 anti-aircraft guns on Iwo Jima (Ross 18). By the time American forces were about to invade, the Imperial army and navy increased their supplies and their garrison to 22,060 men and the U. S. was landing 70,000 marines (admin). Both sides were going to fight to the end, for strategic control of Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima’s defense system was nearly untouchable, the amount of shelling determined the price in lives for the Marines. The U. S. wanted to soften the Japanese defenses as much as possible before the invasion, which was to be named Operation Detachment (Admin). Air raids started as early as June, 1944, as B-24 liberators bombarded the island. Ten days of naval bombardment were requested by General “Howlin’ mad” Smith (Admin), but four days were all that were allowed, even if the weather was perfect (Ross 40). In total, 485 American ships were involved in the invasion of Iwo Jima (Ross 59). On the morning of February 16, naval bombardment commenced, which included six battleships and several destroyers (Ross 43). The weather acted in Japan’s favor. Thick clouds covered Iwo Jima, so bombardment lasted for only two and one-half of the next four days. Iwo Jima was laden with a giant system of underground tunnels and pillboxes, so the naval shelling accomplished little. Most of Iwo Jima’s defenses went unscathed (Ross 43-48). General Smith reflected, “I was not afraid of the outcome of the battle, I know we would win. We always did. But contemplation of cost in lives caused me many sleepless nights” (Ross 47). D-day on Iwo Jima goes down in history as one of the bloodiest days in combat. On the morning of February 19, 1945, Admiral Turner gave the order “Land the landing force” (Ross 59). Marines climbed down from Landing ships on giant nets down onto “Higgins’s” landing craft (Ross 60). At 9:02 a.m., amtracts, which are amphibious light tanks, landed on the beach to give support for the marines about to land (Ross 65). The Marines came on shore shortly after, but something was not right. The Marines were expecting a hail of fire and heavy losses, which would eventually happen. Instead, there were just sporadic small arms fire and light casualties. As more waves of Marines came in, the beaches became jammed with men and vehicles. Vehicles were also getting stuck in the coarse, loose, volcanic sand on the beaches (Ross 65). This was Kuribayashi’s plan: to let the beaches get