Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima

Joseph H. Alexander (1938 - 2014)

Sunday, 4 March 1945, marked the end of the second week of the U.S. invasion of Iwo Jima. By this point the assault elements of the 3d, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions were exhausted, their combat efficiency reduced to dangerously low levels. The thrilling sight of the American flag being raised by the 28th Marines on Mount Suribachi had occurred 10 days earlier, a lifetime on “Sulphur Island.” The landing forces of the V Amphibious Corps (VAC) had already sustained 13,000 casualties, including 3,000 dead. The “front lines” were a jagged serration across Iwo’s fat northern half, still in the middle of the main Japanese defenses. Ahead the going seemed all uphill against a well-disciplined, rarely visible enemy. But the battle was beginning to take its toll on the Japanese garrison as well. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi knew his 109th Division had inflicted heavy casualties on the attacking Marines, yet his own losses had been comparable. The American capture of the key hills in the main defense sector the day before deprived him of his invaluable artillery observation sites. His brilliant chief of artillery, Colonel Chosaku Kaido, lay dying. ...Kuribayashi moved his own command post from the central highlands to a large cave on the northwest coast. The usual blandishments from Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo reached him by radio that afternoon, but Kuribayashi was in no mood for heroic rhetoric. “Send me air and naval support and I will hold the island,” he signalled. “Without them I cannot hold.” - Summary by Joseph H. Alexander

Genre(s): War & Military

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima Aaron Bennett
Play 02 Assault Preparations Aaron Bennett
Play 03 Sidebar: The Japanese Commander Aaron Bennett
Play 04 D-Day Aaron Bennett
Play 05 Sidebar: The Assault Commanders at Iwo Jima Aaron Bennett
Play 06 Suribachi Aaron Bennett
Play 07 Sidebar: Rosenthal’s Photograph of Iwo Jima Flag-Raising Quickly Became One of the War’s Most Famous Aaron Bennett
Play 08 The Drive North Aaron Bennett
Play 09 Sidebars: The Japanese 320mm Spigot Mortar and Marine Corps Air Support During Iwo Jima Aaron Bennett
Play 10 The Bitter End Aaron Bennett
Play 11 Sidebars: The Marines’ Zippo Tank; Iwo’s Fire Brigades: The Rocket Detachments; and Amphibious Logistical Support at Iwo Jima Aaron Bennett
Play 12 Iwo Jima’s Costs, Gains, and Legacies Aaron Bennett
Play 13 Sidebar: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Aaron Bennett