Remembering Iwo Jima
Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013 4:00 pm
The Messenger, February 19, 2013
Tuesday marks the 68th anniversary of the U.S. Marines’ assault on Iwo Jima, and Union City war veteran Ed Youngblood is working to keep the memory of the historic battle alive.
Youngblood is a World War II veteran and a survivor of the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The assault on Iwo Jima began Feb. 19, 1945, at 9 a.m. on the tiny eight-square-mile island south of Japan in the Pacific Ocean. It was the goal of the American military forces to capture the island and its three airfields and use the strategically located island to attack Japan in World War II.
The 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions participated in the siege, representing half of the U.S. Marine Corps, according to Youngblood. He said the landing beaches were located on the east side of the island and the battle lasted 36 days.
Marines gained control of the island on March 26, 1945.
The total number of casualties at Iwo Jima was 28,686 in the 36 days of fighting. There were 5,931 U.S. Marines killed, 17,272 U.S. Marines wounded and 2,648 who experienced combat fatigue and 2,835 from other branches of the military involved in the battle, according to Youngblood.
The assault on Iwo Jima also resulted in 27 Medals of Honor and 93 Navy Crosses being awarded. The 27 Medals of Honor were the most awarded in any battle in U.S. Marine Corps history. Hershel Williams of West Virginia is the only living Medal of Honor recipient remaining, according to Youngblood.
He provided some other statistics from the battle, including:
• More than 500 ships surrounded Iwo Jima during the battle and 70,000 U.S. Marines in three divisions landed on the island.
• There were 20,000 Japanese killed during the battle, and another 1,038 taken prisoner.
“We must never forget those who served there and those who died there,” Youngblood said.
The invasion of Iwo Jima is recognized as the first American landing on Japanese soil. America’s B-29 Superfortress played a key role in the firebombing campaign against the Japanese during the final months of World War II.
The image of the U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the American flag at Mount Suribachi is recognized as one of the most iconic images in American military history.