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On This Day



On This Day… Raising The Flag On Iwo Jima!

Written by: George Chittenden : 07 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 23rd February, back in 1945 when U.S. Marines raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during World War II. An iconic photograph was taken which won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography and became one of the most significant and recognisable images of the war. The image was also used to create the Marine Corps War Memorial, which was dedicated in 1954 to all Marines who died for their country and is in Arlington Ridge Park.

The Iwo Jima Memorial, the U. S. Marine Corps War Memorial, in Arlington.

The Iwo Jima Memorial, the U. S. Marine Corps War Memorial, in Arlington.

Raising the flag was far from easy though. Iwo Jima is located in the north-west Pacific Ocean approximately 650 miles from Tokyo and control of the island was a strategic move as it would serve as a useful base for long-range fighters to cover B-29 Superfortresses in a bombing campaign against Japan's capital. Prior to landing on the island on the 19th Feb, the Americans had pounded the beaches and weakened Japanese defences via both naval and air bombardment. The battle for Iwo Jima was described as the toughest fight in US Marine history by the commander of the Marines in the Pacific, Lt-General M "Howling Mad" Smith.

Even when those brave men raised the Stars and Stripes the battle was far from over and the Japanese were still defending the island using elaborate underground defences. The extinct volcano offered a great vantage point for the ongoing battle for control of the island though. Surprisingly raising the flag was performed more than once, as the first time round it wasn’t recorded for propaganda purposes, so they had to recreate the flag raising in front of the cameras.

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