February 19th is a day few Americans are thinking about as one of significance. However, for a few remaining warriors, it is a day they shall never forget.
Sixty-nine years ago, US Marines hit the volcanic beaches of an island in the Pacific called Iwo Jima. It was part of a month-long assault by 30,000 Marines as part of Operation Detachment. The goal was to capture the island and secure its three airfields which could be used to stage the coming assault against mainland Japan.
This was the first American attack on Japanese territory and the enemy soldiers and marines defended their positions with no thought of surrender. The battle for Iwo Jima was the only conflict fought by the U.S. Marine Corps where there were more American casualties than Japanese. However, the overall Japanese casualties were very high during Operation Detachment. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers at its start, only 216 were taken prisoner.
There are very few Iwo Jima veterans remaining. If you are so blessed and fortunate to know one, please tell him from me, thank you. If nothing else, take the time this day to sit with your children and grandchildren and tell them the story.
Semper Fidelis to those who fought and died on Iwo Jima, those men of the “Greatest Generation.”