By 1945, the United States was winning their fight against the Japanese retaking islands which had been taken from them earlier. First were the Philippines, which began with the Battle for Leyte Gulf in 1944, then onto Luzon in early 1945.
Next on Admiral Nimitz' list was Iwo Jima. This island, which was known as "the unsinkable aircraft carrier," served as a fighter headquarters for Japanese pilots to attack the B-29's that were bombing the island of Japan. In addition, there were over 21,000 Japanese troops garrisoned there. Iwo Jima had the strongest defenses and the heaviest firepower of all the Japanese Pacific strongholds. It was imperative that the U.S. recapture this island as a step in its victory over Japan.
Under General Harry Schmidt's 5th Amphibious Corps an assault began on February 19th, 1945. The General was confident that the island would fall in four days. On February 23rd, Mount Suribachi was taken with the raising of the American Flag. The photo of the raising became one of the most famous photographs of World War II. But the battle raged much longer than expected, due in part to the Japanese digging into the underground of the island, and resistance did not end until March 26th.
Radio broadcast reporting of the fighting was part of the Combined American Network, a pool of reporters which had been set up to facilitate the reporting back to the States. These reports were broadcast by the Mutual Broadcasting System and give vivid aural pictures of the fierce struggle that took place on Iwo Jima. Over 6800 Marines were killed in the fighting with another 19,000 injured.
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© 2001 James F. Widner. all rights reserved.
Map courtesy Rand-McNally Publishers