The Battle for Iwo Jima at 75: The Guns They Carried
By Chris Eger
“Iwo Jima: Another Wave Moves In,” as captioned by the U.S. Marine Corps Archives, showing M-1 Carbine-armed Marines taking cover behind slopes of soft black volcanic ash on the beach and movement on it was described as “trying to run in loose coffee grounds.” The battle for Iwo Jima would last for six weeks, from Feb. 16 to March 26, 1945. (Photos: USMC Archives/U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.)
Some 75 years ago today, 60,000 U.S. troops began a campaign to seize an eight square mile pork chop-shaped island none of them had likely heard of before– Iwo Jima. Soon, they would never forget it.
Dominated by Mount Suribachi, a dormant volcano, Iwo Jima in February 1945 was an important and strategic steppingstone to the ultimate invasion of Japan during World War II. At three airfields built on the volcanic ash, American B-29 bombers could make emergency landings and escorting P-51 Mustang fighters based there could sortie to the Japanese Home Islands, putting the Empire squarely under the bombsights of the world’s most powerful air force.
Defending the fortress was Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi’s forces, which had largely evacuated the civilian population on Iwo and has spent months preparing the island’s difficult terrain to