My VIPs for this week are the men who fought bloody Battle for Iwo Jima during World War II. During this terrible battle, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division reached “the highest peak and most strategic position” on Mount Suribachi and raised the U.S. flag on February 23, 1945. This event was captured by Marine photograph Louis Lowery and caused great cheering among the Americans fighting for control of the slopes of Suribachi.
Several hours later more Marines took a larger flag up the mountain. They were met by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, and he, along with a Marine still photographer and a motion-picture cameraman, recorded the event of the raising of the larger flag. Rosenthal took three photographs that day. His first photograph was of the “five Marines and one Navy corpsman struggling to hoist the heavy flag pole.” This picture “became the most reproduced photograph in history and won him a Pulitzer Price. The fact that the event was captured by motion-picture footage shows that it was not staged. Three of the six Marines in the famous photograph were killed before the end of the Battle of Iwo Jima in late March.
The importance of this battle cannot be overstated. The three airfields on the island were crucial for the United States to further success in the war. This battle was the fiercest and bloodiest of the War in the Pacific during World War II and the only battle where more Marines were killed than Japanese.