~ REPRISE ~
14 July, 1955
3rd Marine Bulldogs
Take Iwo Jima One More Time
Sgt. Howard E. Hobbs, USMC
PACIFIC OCEAN -- On
14 July we embarked 40 officers and 780 enlisted on the USS APA Class
troop carrier at Yokosuka, Japan. On 14 July at 0900 we stormed ashore
carrying out Operation LEX. On
February 19, 1955 a
7th Fleet Task Force 53 that included the 3rd Marine Division,
debarked and made a
landing on the historic WWII Iwo Jima island beachead.
Iwo Jima was Japanese home soil, part of Japan, only 650 miles
from Tokyo. It was administered by the Tokyo metropolitan government. No foreign
army in Japan's 5000 year history had trod on Japanese soil. To
the US, Iwo Jima's importance lay in its location, midway between Japan and American
bomber bases in the Marianas.
Since the summer of 1944, the Japanese home islands
had been reeling
from strikes by the new, long range B-29's. The US, however, had
no protective fighters with enough range to escort the big superfortresses.
many bombers fell prey to Japanese fighter-interceptor attacks.
Iwo, with its three airfields, was ideally located as a fighter-escort
station. It was also an ideal sanctuary for crippled bombers returning
a month in early 1945, 75,000 U.S. Marines were
locked in a deadly struggle with more than 20,000 JapaneseArmy
to the last man this insignificant fly speck in the Pacific Ocean they called
Iwo Jima. We made
the landing after the Navy and Marine airiel bombardment of
the island landing on the southwest beach
Mount Suribachiat the narrow strip of black sandy beach moved
up and seized the airfield and moved quickly over to Hill 362 the
main line of Japanese defense where the bloodiest fighting of the Iwo
Jima operaion then took place.
This writer, landing
at Iwo on February 19, 1955, counted 5350
white crosses and stars in the US Martine Corps Cemetery. This
was one of the toughest battles in the history of the US Marine
Corps. There is no doubt that the captureof Iwo Jima, expensive
in men and matrierlas as it was, became a major factor in th
ultimate ictory over the Japanese fasciest ermpire.
In the wrong place at the right time,
Rene Gagnon was among 110,000 Marines who arrived in 880 ships
in the costly
World War II battle at Iwo Jima, Japan. With five fellow Marines,
he raised the flag of victory. Captured on film and designed
into a massive bronze sculpture, the scene has become one of
the most memorable in the nation's history.
Gagnon was the youngest of the six flag-raisers and - with John
Bradley and Ira Hayes - one of three survivors. Gagnon posed
for his likeness in the famous Washington, DC memorial, and played
himself in two Iwo Jima films, one starring John Wayne. It was
Gagnon who carried the flag up Mt. Suribachi after the famous
moment was recorded. A modest man by all accounts, Gagnon is
buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. He and the
other five flag-raisers are the subject of the book "Flags
of Our Fathers"" by James Bradley, son of one of the
survivors. Internal Affairs, 1945–1954
Professor of History, Stanford University, writes, the official surrender of
Japan on September 2, 1945, brought to a close the bloody and prolonged war in
the beginning of a decade of unparalleled change for the Japanese.
The U.S. State Department Central Files on Japan from 1945 through
1954 offer new perspectives on this watershed era in Japanese history.
Firsthand accounts from U.S. diplomatic posts in Japan, supplemented
by other reports from U.S. and Allied agencies, form over 100,000
pages of authoritative documentation on Japan’s struggle
for adjustment in the postwar world.
coverage of the Central Files offers
thorough reporting on the many key changes in Japan’s government and
politics in the postwar era. These files detail the impact of demilitarization,
the implementation of constitutional reform, and the growth and
proliferation of political parties.
files document such U.S. Conserns as
war crimes and indemnities (and their impact on the attitude of the Japanese),
the rise of the postwar Communist
movement, and the role that Japan would play in U.S. plans for
the defense of the Far East in view of the perceived threats from
China and the Soviet Union.
For Iwo Jima - World War II
February 19 to March 16,1945. Iwo Jima is situated about
650 miles south of Tokyo, Japan. Size of Island: Approximately
wide, 4 miles long; 8 square
Iwo Jima was the first native Japanese soil invaded by Americans
in W.W.II. Approximately 60,000 Americans and 20,000 Japanese
participated in the Battle.
The American Flag Raising on Mt. Suribachi took place on February
23, 1945 - the fifth day of battle. The Battle continued with
increased intensity for a month more. Almost 7,000 Americans
were killed in action at Iwo Jima - more than 20,000 American
Approximately one-third of all Marines killed in action in
World War II were killed at Iwo Jima, making Iwo Jima the battle
the highest number of casualties in Marine Corps history.
Twenty-seven Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded in
the Battle - more than were awarded to Marines and Navy in
Battle in our country's history.
Three of the men who raised the flag in the Joe Rosenthal photo
were killed before the Battle was over.
After the capture of Iwo Jima, more than 30,000 American Airmen's
lives were saved when more than 2,400 disabled B-29 bombers
were able to make emergency landings at the Iwo Jima Airfield
making bombing flights over Japan.
Approximately 132 Americans killed at Iwo Jima were unidentifiable
and listed as unknown.
More than 50 4th Division Marines died of wounds aboard ship
and were buried at sea.
The U.S. government returned the island of Iwo Jima to the
Japanese government in 1968, after the bodies of the men in
the 3rd, 4th,
and 5th Division cemeteries were removed to the United States.
Updated April 25, 2004]
by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.
All rights reserved.