SOURCE: The American Legion Burn Pit
This month marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Iwo Jima, which saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War Two take place on a small Japanese island 1,200 km (745 miles) south of Tokyo.
Iwo Jima was the first native Japanese soil to be invaded during the Allied advance. Located halfway between Tokyo and Guam, it was regarded as a strategic outpost. Close to 7,000 U.S. Marines and nearly all of the 21,000 Japanese defenders of the island died during the 36-day battle.
The Japanese troops held the heavily fortified island for more than a month, supported by a network of bunkers and tunnels and hidden artillery positions.
From Feb. 19, 1945, over 500 warships and 1,000 warplanes from the U.S. navy and army pounded Iwo Jima so heavily that the shelling and bombing changed the shape of the island's highest point, Mount Suribachi, located at its southern tip.
The Washington Post has a story on Woody Williams, who as you know is one of my favorite people:
The Japanese soldiers came out of their concrete “pill box” with bayonets fixed, determined to get the Marine who had been killing them all afternoon with a flamethrower.
Their target was Hershel Williams. He was 5-foot-6, the youngest of the 11 children of a dairy farmer from Quiet Dell, W.Va. He had a nice smile, and a girl back home named Ruby whom he planned to marry when the war was over.
He was 21, and known as “Woody.”
But 75 years ago this month, on a Godforsaken volcanic island in the Pacific called Iwo Jima, he was a terrifying destroyer of the Japanese, incinerating men in their hideouts with jets of blazing diesel fuel and high octane gasoline.
They had to stop him.
Not to ruin the ending, but yeah, they didn't stop him.