Lat 24°47′N Long 141°19′E Iwo Jima is part of the Volcano Islands in Ogasawara Subprefecture in Japan. Surrounded by the North Pacific Ocean, the island is less than five miles long and
two and a half miles wide at its widest point and has been described
by many as pork chop shape when viewed from the air and has no source
of potable water. Iwo Jima means "Sulfur Island" in Japanese. Also known as Iwo To. Located 80 km to the north is North Iwo Jima (Kita Iwo Jima). Iwo Jima is located
south and west of the midpoint between Tokyo and Saipan.
Roughly 22,000 Japanese defenders prepared defenses and sighted the potential landing beaches with artillery, mortars, rockets and machine guns. The island's radar
provided an early warning system and interception point for Japanese aircraft to attack B-29 Superfortresses passing the island returning to the Marianas.
American missions against Iwo Jima
July 4, 1944 - February 27, 1945
On February 19, 1945 an amphibious landing by the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) landed on the invasion beaches on the southern coast of the island near Mount Suribachi. The first day of combat resulted in
2,400 American casualties. During the battle US. 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 declared over and
the island secured, although mopping up continued until July by the US Army, including the 147th Infantry Regiment. Immediately, the island's
airfields were repaired and expanded for American used and for B-29 emergency landings.
American forces maintained a base on Iwo through the Korean War. The island was
a U.S. territory under military control until it was returned to Japan
in 1968. The last American presence, a Coast Guard unit, left the island
in October 1993. Today the island is a Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) base. It is off limits to tourists, aside for the annual memorial services once a year.
Located on the east coast of the island. Site of the massive American landing
on Iwo Jima. The amphibious assault on Iwo Jima was considered
to be the "ultimate storm landing," with a striking force
of 74,000 Marines. The U.S. Marine 4th and 5th Divisions
led the invasion, with the 3rd Division in reserve. After the war, the landing beaches were largely cleared of wreck age which was sold as scrap metal.
Mount Suribachi (Suribachiyama)
Japanese Bunkers and Tunnels
555' volcano on the southern end of Iwo Jima, the highest point on the island. The Japanese tunneled a seven-story interior structure. Heavily bombed and napalmed by American
aircraft during the assault. The summit was captured on February 23, 1945, sight of the first and second flag raising and memorial.
Prior to the American assault, the Japanese built 16 miles of tunnels into Iwo Jima for defenses and living quarters and a hospital 46' underground. Many of these tunnels were tombs for Japanese defenders killed on the island. In 1984, three mummified Japanese soldiers were discovered in a cave.
General Kuribayashi Bunker (General's Bunker)
Located near the northern end of Iwo Jima. A large tunnel complex that reaches 75' underground with five levels.
Sgt G. W. Rosson recalls from 1946:
"We went all through the General's cave down to the 2nd level. All of the halls 4 by 6 feet would go down at a 60 degree to the next level. The General's cave is 75 feet deep at the bottom floor. Lot of stories of what was in that cave, one small room had a bath tub half way in the ground. One room had chairs and tables all over the place. There were a lot of Japanese paper all over the floor. We went down to the next level it got hotter and the smell was bad. We came to the next opening going down to the next level. Since this was the General's cave we new that there had to be another way out. We found it a big wooden door that we couldn't get open. In one of the rooms there were 8 or 9 dead bodies. The smell was bad, their skin was dried up. There were a lot of air shafts going up."
Motoyama No. 1 (Airfield No. 1 Chidori, South Field)
Japanese built airfield on the southern corner of the island
Motoyama No. 2 (Airfield No. 2, Central Field)
Japanese built airfield in the center of the island, expanded by the Americans and still in use today
Motoyama No. 3 (Airfield No. 3, North Field)
Japanese airfield never completed converted into aircraft revetments and installations
F6F Hellcat Bureau Number 43041
Pilot Nisi, MIA July 4, 1944 off Iwo Jima
USS Bismarck Sea CVE-95
Sunk February 21, 1945 by kamikaze aircraft off Iwo Jima
Type 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha Medium Tank
Captured on Iwo Jima, taken to the United States for evaluation
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December 18, 2018