I just finished the book "THE BLOODY BATTLE OF SURIBACHI" by Richard Wheeler, a young Marine Corporal who served with EASY Company on Iwo Jima. Wheeler was in an early wave of Marines assaulting the island. Easy Company's Regiment had the mission to cut off Mt Suribachi from the rest of the Island and then assault the mountain and reach the crater on top. Suribachi was honeycombed with Japanese caves, bunkers and pillboxes defended by Japanese soldiers knowing they were fighting till their death. Days of naval bombardment and aerial bombing had done little to weaken the brave Japanese defenders. Reading of the courage of these men is awe inspiring and heart wrenching. In the face of overwhelming odds the Marines fought inch by inch up the black sand of the volcano. Wheeler was seriously wounded and evacuated early in the climb. Much of his book was related to him by his surviving friends in Easy Company who finally took Suribachi and raised the first flag atop the mountain. This Battalion took over 91% casualties. There was true purpose in this assault. It was no mere photo-op. The volcano had to be taken to eliminate Japanese observation and artillery spotting over the rest of the Island which would be fought over for the next 31 days. Iwo needed to be taken to allow US aircraft to have access to the home islands of Japan.
|Marines raise the first flag on Mt Suribachi|
This book got me to thinking and to realize this country has not fought a war since WWII that was worth the life of a single Sailor, Soldier, Airman or Marine. The people of the United States certainly have made no sacrifice to support our combat since WWII. This truly was the Greatest Generation on the battlefield and, importantly, on the home front.
|A larger flag was soon raised. The photograph of the second became famous worldwide.|