Monday, May 30, 2011

IWO JIMA - TODAY




Mount Suribachi overlooks the landing beaches. During the battle for Iwo Jima, Mt Suribachi gave the Defending Japanese forces a perfect vantage point from which to direct lethal artillery fire on the Marines' hastily dug positions on the beach.


Futatsune Beach, today known by visiting Marines as Invasion Beach, is where on February 19, 1945, the Marines landed on D-Day of the invasion of Iwo Jima. This picture was taken from near the top of Mt. Suribachi. Forward Observer's dream!


Marines race across the beach to experience a fraction of the experiences the Marines who fought for Iwo Jima might have had on D-Day of the Battle. The major difference between today and 1945 is that today no one is shooting at them!


The guide for this trip asked the Marines to rush this dune to get an idea of what the Marines who took Iwo Jima faced. Every step you take up, you slide down and into the dune. You have to work hard to get to the top. Imagine doing it with 100 lbs on your back while being shot at and artillery raining down on you.


A heavy machine gun, possibly a Japanese Type 92 Heavy Machine Gun, lies abandoned in a bunker overlooking the landing beaches. There are still dozens of these bunkers all over the island. Most of them were destroyed during the battle. This pillbox still bore the scars of the fighting. It was pockmarked with bullet holes and the inside was blackened. I imagine a flame thrower was used to clear that pillbox.



This monument was erected on the spot where Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, Michael Strank, John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes raised the American flag 4 days into the battle for Iwo Jima . Iwo Jima is like Mecca for the Marines. Visiting Marines leave personal mementos behind during their 'pilgrimages'. The Eagle, Globe and Anchors on the left and right side of the monument are completely covered in dog tags left by visiting Marines and service men to honor the 6,131 killed.
Remember what they did!!