Core: The battle was very bloody and remembered by the Japanese and Americans, who are now allies. This is how the terrible battle goes.
“You know,” Major General Clifton B. Cate told the war correspondent on the eve of Operation Detachment, the invasion of Iwo Jima, “if I knew the name of the man on the right-hand end. Right-hand battalion companies, I would recommend him for medals before we enter. “
And for good reason. The 4th General Marine Division of the Cates was assigned to make amphibious landings which were opposed by the four on a very protected island. Division 4 is the right wing division of the Amphibious V Corps General Harry Schmidt and, together with the 5th Marine Division Major General Keller E. Rockey on the left, will begin one of the bloodiest battles in American history. Also taking part was 3rd Marine Division Major General Graves B. Erskine.
General Cates understood what his men would face. Born August 31, 1893, in Tiptonville, Tennessee, he was assigned to the United States Marine Corps after receiving a law degree from the University of Tennessee. He fought in the Great War with the US Army 2nd Division Marine Brigade in Verdun, Belleau Wood, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne.
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After inter-war duty in China and several military schools, Cates ordered the 1st Marine Regiment on Guadalcanal. Then, after leading the Marine Corps School, he was sent back to the Pacific to lead the 4th Marine Division, which had just completed the seizure of Saipan in July 1944. Many decorations were worthy of receiving including the Navy Cross, two Honorable Service Crosses. , two Honorable Service Medals, two Silver Stars, Legion of Merit, and two Purple Hearts.
Anyone unidentified Marine on the right wing, he is a member of the 25th Sea Regiment, 4th Marine Division. Most of the men in the division had made three or more conflicting landings in the Marshall Islands, in Saipan, and most recently in Tinian, both in the Mariana Islands. Like General Cates, who had taken command of the division from General Schmidt after Saipan, they knew very well what they would face.
They have learned quickly. For a unit that did not yet exist when General Cates and the first Marine Division landed on Guadalcanal in 1942, the 4th Marine Division was organized, trained, and took part in four landing amphibious attacks in less than 13 months. And Iwo Jima, who is scheduled to be attacked on February 19, 1945, will be the worst.
Strategic Importance of Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima is also important. Lying halfway directly from Saipan to Tokyo, Iwo Jima has two airfields with the third being built. From here Japanese fighters can attack the B-29 Superfortresses by bombing raids to Tokyo or returning to Saipan, choosing bombers who have been damaged by anti-aircraft fire. As a result, the B-29 must fly higher, along a rotating route, with a reduced load. At the same time, enemy bombers based in Iwo often stormed the B-29 base in Marianas. Iwo radar station also gave the Japanese defense authority two hours’ notice in advance of the upcoming B-29 attack.
Because of the distance between mainland Japan and American bases on the Mariana Islands, Iwo Jima, if captured, would provide emergency airfields for damaged B-29s returning from the bombing lane. The capture of Iwo will also allow for a sea and air blockade, plus strengthen America’s ability to conduct intensive air bombardment and reduce Japan’s air and sea capabilities.
Iwo was once a remote, sulfuric island, seven square miles which is part of the Bonin Group located 750 miles south of Tokyo. Japan, which considers the island part of Tokyo Prefecture, has occupied it for decades and spent 1944 creating stinging spider webs, strangling hot underground tunnels, warehouses, command posts, fortifications and battle positions. Two airfields are scattered on the surface of the island, and 14,000 Japanese soldiers and 7,000 Marines are guarding the defense. The island’s garrison commander, Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, was convinced that his position was as impenetrable as anyone could do.
The 4th Marine Division consists of three standard marine infantry regiments (23rd, 24th and 25th) and one artillery regiment (14th). Including tank battalions, engineers, and medical and other support units. The 4th task on Iwo is to secure a beachhead, seize the enemy’s first airfield, and then turn north and east, clearing the enemy while walking. What was crucial to success was the reduction in the enemy’s ability to send flanking shots on the landing shore from an area known as the “Mine,” which ignored them from the north.
Various Marine divisions and regiments have a special sector of the two-mile coast assigned to them. In the first wave, Team 25 Combat Regiment Colonel John R. Lanigan will land on Blue Beach on the right side, RCT 23 Colonel Walter W. Wensinger was assigned to the Yellow landing beach (on the left on the 25th) and to attack the first enemy airfield. The 27th Marine will land on the Red Beach to the left of the center, while the 28th Marine will hit the Green Beach on the far left, closest to Mount Suribachi. The 24th is reserved and will land around 5 pm on L-day (landing day).
Softening the enemy’s defense is considered critical. After experiencing intense sea and air bombardments that lasted for days (but not as long as the American commander wanted), the Japanese, although slightly shaken and deaf, looked through telescopes and field glasses to see 450 American ships parked. south coast of the island.
“Landing Troops Landing!”
At 6:45 am on February 19, 1945, Richmond Admiral Kelly Turner gave the signal, “Landing troops!” It took hours to obey the order, but shortly after 9 am, Marines from the 4th and 5th Divisions began to hit the Green, Red, Yellow and Blue Beaches parallel, initially finding a little enemy resistance. Kuribayashi had ordered his people to hold their fire until the beaches were filled with invaders; most will obey. There will also be no accusations of suicide banzai.
After crossing the mainland, the mission of the 25th RCT 4th Marine Division was to push forward to take Quarry, Japan’s strong point, while the 28th Marines of the 5th Marine Division were in charge of attacking Suribachi Mountain, which towered 556 feet above the invasion coast. The 3rd Marine Division will be stored as a reserve and land on L + 5 to capture Airfield Number 2. More than 80,000 Marines will eventually take part in Operation Detachment.
The Japanese watched and waited as the Marines in camouflage uniforms came ashore, followed by their large and running Sherman tanks. Supplies began to pile up in black sand. The Marines are clearly relieved that, so far, everything has gone without a hitch. Several shots had been fired at them. Maybe the initial barrage has destroyed all enemies.
And then, around 10 o’clock in the morning, the calm morning was destroyed when General Kuribayashi gave the signal and hundreds of weapons, which were fired from a hidden residence, were opened in the Marines.
Colonel Wensinger’s RCT 23 found that trying to run across soft volcanic sand produced like running through molasses. Fighting inland under increasingly fierce enemy fire, they pushed forward until they reached the edge of Motoyama Airport No. 1 in the afternoon. But enemy opposition had thinned the ranks of the battalion leading, and despite the support of Lieutenant 4 Tank Richard K. Schmidt, Battalion Tank 4, the attack stopped at the edge of the airfield. Even tanks have difficulty reaching the airfield, some are lost to enemy mines buried in soft sand and others stranded while on the beach in the same black volcanic sand.
Wensinger’s 23rd Marines faced a series of blocks and drug boxes manned by the 10th Independent Anti-Tank Battalion and the 309th Infantry Battalion. This is where Sergeant Darren S. Cole, USMCR, 24, from Flat River, Missouri, served with Company B, Battalion 1, 23rd Marines, becoming the first Marine in Iwo Jima to get the Medal of Honor. When his troops were stopped by small arms, mortar and artillery fire, Sergeant Cole led them up the slope towards Airfield Number 1 and alone destroyed two enemy positions with grenades. He then identified three enemy medicine boxes that threatened his men.
Putting his machine gun into action, he managed to silence the nearest medicine box. Suddenly, the weapon jammed and the enemy opened a new fusillade, including a knee mortar. Sergeant Cole, armed only with a gun and one hand grenade, was accused of being alone on the enemy side, throwing his grenades, and then returning to retrieve more. He repeated this action two more times, each time knocking down enemy positions. When he destroyed the last enemy post, he returned to his army only to be killed by enemy hand grenades. His sacrifice has allowed Company B to move forward against Airfield Number 1.
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