The Battle of Iwo Jima was a major battle in which the U.S. Marines landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
The 4th and 5th Marine Divisions were sent in on February 19, 1945, and the intense fighting that ensued during the 36-day assault would be immortalized in the words of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who said, “Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
The most famous image from the Battle of Iwo Jima is undoubtedly the photograph of the flag raising at the summit of Mount Suribachi that was taken by the AP’s Joe Rosenthal. The flag-raisers as seen in the photo, are (from left to right) Ira Hayes, Franklin R. Sousley, Michael Strank, John Bradley, Rene A. Gagnon, and Harlon Block.
Strank, Block, and Sousley were killed in the battle that continued on Iwo Jima. The remaining three flag-raisers returned to the U.S. as reluctant heroes.
The picture, which won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize in News Photography among other awards, is perhaps the most reproduced photograph in history. On Nov. 10, 1954, a bronze monument of the famous flag-raising, sculpted by Felix de Weldon and located in Arlington National Cemetery, was dedicated.
The month-long assault resulted in more than 28,000 American casualties, including 6,821 dead. Of the 22,000 Japanese defenders, only 1,083 survived. Iwo Jima was occupied by the U.S. until 1968, when it was returned to Japan.