On Feb. 19, 1945, thousands of Marines landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima, the first U.S. assault on Japanese home islands. For over a month, the Marines fought an epic fight with Japanese troops before declaring the island secured on March 16, 1945. Of the thousands (estimates run as high as 22,000) of Japanese troops defending the island, only 216 were captured. The rest were either killed either in battle or by ritual suicide.
The fighting produced over 26,000 U.S. casualties. Nearly 7,000 Marines (and 300 sailors) were killed. After the battle, Admiral Chester Nimitz said, "Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
Indeed, 27 Medals of Honor were awarded to Marines and sailors for their actions at Iwo Jima. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting their citations at Unto the Breach.