The amphibious assault on Iwo Jima was considered to be the "ultimate storm landing," with a striking force of 74,000 Marines. Although planners estimated the attack on Iwo should have been over within a week or less, they hadn't planned on the stubborn, savvy fighting of the estimated 21,000 Japanese troops on the island, who were experienced in island warfare after their many campaigns in the Pacific. Caves throughout the island were utilized by the Japanese military for a hospital, headquarters for the various Japanese officers on island, and even a sauna. Mt. Suribachi housed a seven-story interior structure used by the Japanese for stockpiling weapons, ammo, radios, fuel, and rations.
What started as a quick, violent attack on February 19, 1945, turned into 36 days of some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting the Marines had encountered. The U.S. Marine 4th and 5th Divisions led the invasion, with the 3rd Division in reserve. The first day saw 2,400 American casualties but, during the battle U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers killed an estimated 20,000 Japanese and captured over 1,000 prisoners. On March 25, the Battle of Iwo Jima was finally over, with the U.S. the victor.
Over 6,000 U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers died, over 18,000 were wounded and over 500 were presumed dead or MIA. Twenty-six U.S. Marines and Navy corpsmen received Iwo Jima Medal of Honor Citations for their gallant bravery in combat on Iwo Jima. (For more information on the Medal of Honor recipients, visit this page)