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Iwo Jima Statistics and more

There are some interesting statistics here resulting from the Battle for Iwo Jima. All that enjoy a bit of Military History should be amazed at some of these facts.


On March 26th,1945, Iwo Jima was declared “secured”.  The Marines handed the island over to the Army so the Army Air Corps could use the air fields. Then many of the Marines sailed off to another party on Okinawa.

February 19th was the start of the invasion of Iwo.  That seems so long ago. But for the Marines and sailors who assaulted Iwo, every one of the 36 continuous days of that battle seemed nearly that long.

About 77,000 US Marines from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions converged on tiny Iwo Jima in late February.  LtGen Tadamichi Kuribayashi had fortified Iwo for a full year before the invasion, and had an estimated 22,000 troops dug in under the island.  US forces began bombing Iwo in June 1944, 8 full months before the invasion.  Naval bombardments then shelled the island mercilessly around the clock for four consecutive days prior to the invasion.

Iwo set a number of “firsts”:

It was the longest concentrated bombardment of any target in the history of mankind up to that date.

It was the largest total tonnage of bombs and artillery ever delivered on a single target to that date.

It was the largest armada of ships ever assembled for an invasion up to that date (about 700 ships).

It was the largest number of invaders to ever invade any island up to that date (each of those new records was broken by the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945).

It was the first (and last) time Seabees accompanied Marines in the first waves of a beach invasion (they swore they’d never do THAT again!).

It was the first and last time any Marine unit landed on D-Day and served an entire campaign without being relieved by another unit.

And it was the only time in Marine Corps history when the number of invading casualties exceeded the number of defending casualties.  More than 19,000 Marines were wounded on Iwo, and 6,821 died there.  As such, it remains the costliest battle in Marine Corps history.

Now get this: one-third of all marines killed during WWII, died on Iwo Jima.

Let me repeat that: ONE THIRD of all US Marines killed during WWII, died on Iwo Jima.

All but about 200 Japanese defenders died on Iwo.

Marine LtGen Harry Schmidt and LtGen H. M. Smith led Task Force 56. It made up V Corps, composed of the 3rd MarDiv (MGen Erskine), 4th MarDiv (MGen Clifton Cates) and 5th MarDiv (MGen Rockey).  The 5th Division had been formed expressly for the battle of Iwo Jima.  It was disbanded following the battle.

Among the participants were names of distinction:
�         Son of the sitting Commandant LtCol AA Vandergriff Jr (3/24)
�         Future Commandant 1stLt Robert E Cushman, Jr (2/9)
�         Future Commandant Clifton Cates (CG 4thMarDiv)
�         Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal
�         LtGen “Howlin’ Mad” Smith
�         And the first enlisted Marine Medal of Honor recipient of WWII, “Manila John” Basilone. Basilone had received his MOH from Chesty Puller, for action on Guadalcanal. He was KIA on Iwo on D-Day.

The invasion planners felt confident the battle would take 7-10 days.  It took 36.  LtGen Kuribayashi’s body has never been found.

The final two Japanese defenders surrendered 4 years after the battle.  In January of 1949 two Japanese soldiers surrendered themselves to the occupying US Army garrison on Iwo. They had hidden in the 11 miles of tunnels and bunkers under Iwo, successfully raiding the Army supplies for food and water at night.  

       They had found a Stars and Stripes newspaper which showed pictures of GIs celebrating New Year’s Eve in downtown Tokyo, 1948-49, and knew Japan had lost the war.

They reported in full uniforms, well fed, and surrendered clean, fully-functional weapons.

Iwo Jima stands as an icon for every Marine who has earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor since 1945.  The men who fought there are true heroes to our nation and our Corps.  We can never thank them enough for what they went through for us on that small patch of hell.  I’ve stopped often today and thought about them.

THANK YOU, Marines. Because of what you did, I grew up a safe healthy kid in comfort and freedom during the 1950s and 60s, speaking English instead of Japanese.

I’ll never forget what they gave for this nation and for our Corps.  They remain my personal heroes.

Semper Fidelis.

Previous article Lineage of the USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor


Sgt E-5 T. K. Shimono - April 1, 2020

Why isn’t this data and information made available to all Marines interested about Iwo Jima? This is the first time I have heard of the availability of this data. I served with Marines who fought in the Pacific and Korea. We became friends during my time in the Corps (1959-1968). They are all gone now, but I still remember them like it was yesterday. Semper Fi and God speed to them.

Nick - April 1, 2020

Finally someone else that was sent to NSA Asan. I was hit at the Khe-Gio Bridge while serving with L-3/1 Apr 68. Ended up at NSA Da-Nang for a few days and then off to Guam on a 141 then a few days after arriving was on another 141 bound for Philly USA. Talked to some vets that say I’m full of it “No one was sent to Guam” they say. Nick 0311 67-68

Robert D. Orzechowski - April 1, 2020

My Dad was in 3/26 on Iwo, and his brother, my Uncle Ken, was in the 4th MarDiv on Iwo. Neither knew the other was there until near the end of the battle they came across one another on the beach.
Our surviving MCL detachment Iwo vet, Mr. Fink, was also in the 26th Marines and passed away 5 days before he and I were to make the trip to Iwo in March 2019. He was 94.
Semper Fi

Chris A WESLING - April 1, 2020

My dad served 1942-1972, retired Mgy/Sgt. In WWII he was in V amphibious corps on Saipan, Tinian, & Iwo Jima


I was in the hospital on Guam at Asan Anex from Feburary to April of 69. (I got hit on Hill 1175 in the Ah Shaw.)
There were two Japanese holdouts, one was a Lt. The other a Sgt. They turned themselves in in the early 70’s.
Okinawa was a blast. My unit was pulled out of Nam in July of 69. I spent 6 weeks there before I rotated. I partied harty.
The Japanese are good people, they were just mislead and lied too.

Bernard G. Ruchin - April 1, 2020

GySgt B.G. Ruchin
When World War II ended I was detached from the 2nd Mar Div to the
War Crimes Tribunal on Guam as NCOIC of a stockade Section, My section
held Jap prisoners from Chichi Jima charged with war crimes. In custody
was a Jap Major, Yoshita Horie, who was the Staff Officer to the Iwo Jima
Commander, General Kuribayashi. Horie spoke fairly good english and
I had many conversations with him. The reason he escaped the horror
and destruction of Iwo was that he would travel back and forth between
Iwo and Chichi. When we invaded Iwo, he was unable to return and stayed
on Chichi. He told me that just before we invaded Iwo, he and the General
actually examined the possibility of sinking Iwo with explosives but after touring the island, decided it would not be feasible . He was the architect
of constructing all those tunnels and remarked that only twenty percent
were actually completed. There is volumes more about this experience
and those who may be interested, you may contact me. I have a
document signed , that he gave me of the last days of Kuribayashi as
he was in daily communication with him right to the end. Photos, etc
Semper Fi

Cpl J. W. Hornsey 2565053 Mike 3/1 CUPP RVN 1970 - April 1, 2020

My dad Cpl George Hornsey Jr served with Foxtrot 2/27 5th Div. on Iwo. My grandfather LtCmdr D.M. Roberts M.D. served with the Medical Corps on a ship off Iwo Jima. He also served on Guadalcanal. My mom and dad were engaged at the time. 25 years later I was an 0311/ Radio operator for Mike 3/1 1st Div in Vietnam. This coming March my wife and I are going to Iwo Jima for the 75th Anniversary of the battle. I get emotional thinking I will be able to walk across Red Beach 1 and cross my dad’s footsteps. My dad passed in August of 97.
Temper Fi

Sgt. Robert L - April 1, 2020

Reminds me of my Father. He was with the 5th Marine Division on Iwo. The only reason I know this is because my Uncle told me. My Father never talked to me about his service until about a month before he died and he told me he always regretted not staying in but my Mother wanted him out so he got out.

MarineBob - April 1, 2020

Years ago I worked with a former Marine who some coworkers told me had been involved in the Iwo invasion. One time while we were doing something unimportant I asked him if had been on Iwo. His answer was ‘yeah.’ That was the end of the discussion.

Charles Renton - April 1, 2020

We were rousted off post at about 0200 and bussed to Yakota AFB to fly out to Iwo Jima for the 40th anniversary. While waiting for the C 130 we found the airport bar open; two hours later we discovered C 130s have no “facilities” and were happy we had been ordered to bring two canteens. We arrived hung-over to the most deathly silent
place I’ve ever seen since. It was the very definition of a sobering experience.

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