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14 July, 1955

Beach Storming 3rd Marine Bulldogs
Take Iwo Jima One More Time

by Sgt. Howard E. Hobbs, USMC

      SOUTH 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 from Japan.
     For a month in early 1945, 75,000 U.S. Marines were locked in a deadly struggle with more than 20,000 JapaneseArmy troops defending 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 below 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
Peter Duus, 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 Pacific and marked 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.
         The wide-ranging 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.
         Additionally, the 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.
 [Editor's Note:  Battle 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 2 miles wide, 4 miles long; 8 square miles. 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 casualties. Approximately one-third of all Marines killed in action in World War II were killed at Iwo Jima, making Iwo Jima the battle with 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 any other 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 after 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]

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