His son, retired Marine Capt. Robert W. Van Camp carried that same faded flag back to the island, now called Iwo To, with his three adult children on Saturday for the 74th Reunion of Honor ceremony to find the understanding that had eluded him while his father was alive. The elder Van Camp died of prostate cancer in His son, now 87 and living in San Juan Islands, Wash.
The elder Van Camp also killed two Japanese soldiers who jumped into the foxhole at night while he was on guard duty. Van Camp was among several hundred people allowed onto the island, now a Japanese military base, Saturday for the annual remembrance ceremony. Also present were a dozen of the dwindling number of U. I was lucky I guess; hand grenades got me. Why me? The Japanese had dug deep into the volcanic rock of the island, connected by a labyrinth of tunnels. Seventy-thousand Marines took part in the day battle, suffering more casualties than the Japanese with more than 6, killed and 19, wounded.
The struggle to take the Motoyama Plateau, including "Turkey Knob," took nearly three weeks. The Japanese actually had the Marines outgunned in this area, and the extensive network of tunnels allowed the Japanese to reappear in areas thought to have been cleared and therefore "safe. On the night of March 25, a man Japanese force launched a final counterattack in the vicinity of Airfield Number 2.
Army pilots, Seabees and Marines of the 5th Pioneer Battalion and 28th Marines fought the Japanese force until morning but suffered heavy casualties more than Americans were killed and another were wounded. The island was officially declared "secured" by the U. Although still a matter of speculation because of conflicting accounts from surviving Japanese veterans, it has been said that Kuribayashi led this final assault,  which unlike the loud banzai charge of previous battles, was characterized as a silent attack.
If ever proven true, Kuribayashi would have been the highest ranking Japanese officer to have personally led an attack during World War II.
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Additionally, this would also be the final instance of Kuribayashi's departure from the normal Japanese practice; commanding officers typically committed seppuku behind the lines while the rest perished in the banzai charge, as happened during the battles of Saipan and Okinawa. Of the over 21, Japanese soldiers entrenched on the island, 20, died either from fighting or by ritual suicide.
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Only were captured during the battle. The Allied forces suffered 27, casualties, with 6, killed in action. The number of American casualties was greater than the total Allied casualties on D-Day estimated at 10,, with , American casualties during the entire Battle of Normandy. Marine battle where the American casualties exceeded the Japanese.
After Iwo Jima was declared secured, the Marines estimated there were no more than three hundred Japanese left alive in the island's warren of caves and tunnels. In fact, there were close to three thousand. The Japanese bushido code of honor, coupled with effective propaganda which portrayed American G.
Those who could not bring themselves to commit suicide hid in the caves during the day and came out at night to prowl for provisions.
Battle of Iwo Jima: Marine Private Jay Rebstock’s Story of Survival
Some did eventually surrender and were surprised that the Americans often received them with compassion, offering water, cigarettes, or coffee. Given the number of casualties, the necessity and long-term significance of the island's capture to the outcome of the war was a contentious issue from the beginning, and remains disputed.
Pratt, wrote in Newsweek magazine about. The Japanese on Iwo Jima had radar and were thus able to notify their comrades at home of incoming B Superfortresses flying from the Mariana Islands. Fighter aircraft based on Iwo Jima sometimes attacked these planes, which were especially vulnerable on their way to Japan because they were heavily laden with bombs and fuel.
Although the island was used as an air-sea rescue base after its seizure, the traditional justification for Iwo Jima's strategic importance to the United States' war effort has been that it provided a landing and refueling site for American bombers on missions to and from Japan. As early as March 4, , while fighting was still taking place, the B bomber Dinah Might of the USAAF 9th Bomb Group reported it was low on fuel near the island and requested an emergency landing.
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Despite enemy fire, the airplane landed on the Allied-controlled section of the island, without incident, and was serviced, refueled and departed. In all, 2, B Superfortress landings on Iwo Jima were recorded during the war. None of these calculations played much if any of a role in the original decision to invade, however, which was almost entirely based on the Army Air Force's belief that the island would be a useful base for long-range fighter escorts. These escorts proved both impractical and unnecessary, and only ten such missions were ever flown from Iwo Jima.
Although some Japanese interceptors were based on Iwo Jima, their impact on the American bombing effort was marginal; in the three months before the invasion only 11 Bs were lost as a result. Some downed B crewmen were saved by air-sea rescue aircraft and vessels operating from the island, but Iwo Jima was only one of many islands that could have been used for such a purpose. As for the importance of the island as a landing and refueling site for bombers, Marine Captain Robert Burrell, then a history instructor at the United States Naval Academy, suggested that only a small proportion of the 2, landings were for genuine emergencies, the great majority possibly being for minor technical checkups, training, or refueling.
According to Burrell,. The tragic cost of Operation Detachment pressured veterans, journalists, and commanders to fixate on the most visible rationalization for the battle. The sight of the enormous, costly, and technologically sophisticated B landing on the island's small airfield most clearly linked Iwo Jima to the strategic bombing campaign. As the myths about the flag raisings on Mount Suribachi reached legendary proportions, so did the emergency landing theory in order to justify the need to raise that flag.
Nevertheless, in promoting his expanded exploration of the issue, The Ghosts of Iwo Jima, Burrell's publishers also point out that the very losses formed the basis for a "reverence for the Marine Corps" that not only embodied the "American national spirit" but ensured the "institutional survival" of the Marine Corps.
On February 19, , the 40th anniversary of the landings, an event called the "Reunion of Honor" was held. The veterans of both sides who fought in the battle of Iwo Jima attended the event. The place was the invasion beach where U. A memorial on which writings were engraved by both sides was built at the center of the meeting place.
Japanese attended at the mountain side, where the Japanese writing was carved, and Americans attended at the shore side, where the English writing was carved. After unveiling and offering of flowers were made, the representatives of both countries approached the memorial; upon meeting, they shook hands. The old soldiers embraced each other and cried. The combined Japan-U. Further memorial services have been held on later anniversaries.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself "…conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States…" Because of its nature, the medal is commonly awarded posthumously. Since its creation during the American Civil War it has only been presented 3, times. During this one-month-long battle, 27 U. Of the 27 medals awarded, 22 were presented to Marines and five were presented to United States Navy sailors.
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To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats. The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:. Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed. Battle of Iwo Jima. Previous Battle of Inchon. Next Battle of Jutland. Credits New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. The noise in the closed hull was deafening, and blue exhaust from the engines filled the compartment and choked the waiting Marines.
The sunlight of a beautiful day streamed into the cavernous hold as the first tractor creaked toward the inclined deck leading to the lapping, blue water. Like a great hippo, the ungainly tractor waddled down the ramp and went in nose first. Its steel tracks ground on the steel ramp until it plunged in and bobbed up, righting itself in the light seas. It churned away as the next tractor followed, and then the next. Finally it was time for the 2nd Platoon to enter the water.
Rebstock and the other 15 Marines on the LVT felt the vehicle dip down the ramp, and suddenly they were floating and crawling off to join the other launched tractors as they circled in a great rendezvous. A few minutes past , the naval gunfire stopped. The LVTs churned toward the line of departure, and as they passed the Navy ships, sailors waved and yelled encouragement.
Nothing could be heard above the roar of the tractor engines, but the Marines gave the thumbs up in response. The Marines cheered, seeing that 48 of the aircraft were Marine planes. They watched the planes drop their high explosives and napalm on the slopes of Suribachi and on the Motoyama airfields. For 20 minutes it was a grand spectacle. The planes flew away and the Navy bombardment started again.
This time, every gun concentrated on the beaches. At the first wave of infantry formed and followed the LVT A s toward the beaches. Rebstock and his fellow Marines could see the sterns of the tractors in front of them, and as the leathernecks looked over the gunwales of their own craft, they could see adjacent units churning forward with them. Their destination was Red Beach 1, and they pushed onward under the greatest cannonade of naval gunfire imaginable.
During the 30 minutes that it took for the run to the beach, the American ships salvoed more than 8, rounds of fire, completely obliterating Japanese Lt. Rebstock, holding onto his 5-gallon water can, watched as some waves broke over the gunwales and splashed onto the deck. Despite the relatively calm seas, some of the men were sick.
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The motion and the 30 minutes in the belly of the LST with those terrible fumes were now taking their toll. The tractors approached the beach like giant water bugs. Rebstock began to see splashes in the water. He assumed the Navy had fired some short rounds. Then, there were more splashes, and suddenly an LVT exploded, and men screamed in the water. These were not short rounds. With the deadly seriousness of men under fire, everyone huddled into small balls on the wet deck. Two hundred yards from the beach, Rebstock sneaked a peek over the side, and he could see that the armored tractors from the first wave were not even on the beach.
In fact, they had backed down, and were firing their guns from the water. What the hell is going on? He looked out again. To his amazement, he saw a gun firing at the aircraft that were strafing the beach. He could only see the top of the gun and the top of a helmet as the gun slewed around from its position atop the second terrace.
The tracks ground on the sand, and his LVT lurched up a slope, then ground to a halt as the tracks continued to churn and cut grooves in the soft soil. Over the side, came the order, and the Marines jumped onto the black volcanic sand. Rebstock crouched low and tried to move forward, but his feet sank into the sand up to his knees.
He cursed; the day ship ride seemed to have left him out of shape and wheezing for air. He felt like a salmon trying to swim upstream.
see url As alternately he struggled up and slid down the terrace, he chanced a look down and was horrified to see that he was still lugging the water can he had been given to carry in. His hand opened as if he had grabbed a hot iron, and he half threw and half kicked the offending can away.
He also now ditched some of his gear. His load was so heavy he could hardly move. In addition to his weapon, he had rounds of ammo, plus an extra bandoleer slung around his chest, grenades, entrenching tool, canteens of water, a bipod for the BAR and a pistol.
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It did not take him long to send the bipod and the pistol to join the 5-gallon water can on the beach. When next Rebstock looked up, some of his squad had surmounted the terraces that led up from the beach and had jumped into the gun pit where he had seen the artillery piece earlier. The Marines were clubbing the Japanese gunners to death with their rifles.
With his lighter load, Rebstock struggled up the second terrace and ran to his assistant BAR man, who, like him, was carrying an extra load of ammunition. The BAR is your weapon, so you can carry your own ammo! The men cast wary eyes up the forbidding slopes, expecting a hail of fire to rain down on them at any moment.
But Suribachi let them pass. As they approached a small sugar cane field that had remarkably withstood the bombardment, Rebstock watched in amazement as a Japanese soldier charged toward him. It was almost unreal, as if in a dream, and it took him a moment before he leveled his weapon at the charging figure to knock him down with a short burst. A lieutenant came up, and screamed at the panting BAR man that he thought he had killed a fellow Marine.
He had been a Japanese marine. Again, they pushed on.
By early afternoon they reached the opposite side of the island, where the terrain consisted of solid rocks and cliffs. They stopped and counted their casualties. It was not too bad. Easy Company had lost its company commander and had six other men killed and nine wounded, but they had cut a wide path across the island, isolating Suribachi from the northern reaches of the island. The company took up defensive positions and evacuated its wounded. The men were ready for orders to swing to the north, but those orders did not come, and would not come, at least on this day. In fact, within an hour of being evacuated, most of the wounded men were back with their units, saying it was safer in the lines than on the beaches.
The landing beaches were catching hell. The third and fourth waves landed behind the 2nd Platoon and dumped 2, more men on the beach, and they, too, began their ascent up the double and triple terraces to reach the flat land and the airfield. Enemy small-arms fire increased. Marines who had landed on Green Beach, to the left of Rebstock and the 2nd Platoon, headed for the base of Suribachi. At a few minutes past , as the Marines packed on the beaches struggled to overcome the damnable, sliding terraces, General Kuribayashi gave the order for his previously silent artillery to open fire.
The roar was as deafening as it was frightening. Artillery and mortars, along with big coastal guns and anti-aircraft pieces, unleashed a terrifying volley. The beaches were pulverized with every conceivable type of fire, and the raining shells swept back and forth across the landing beaches like a giant scythe. Marines were crushed and landing craft on the beaches exploded.
Vehicles and equipment close to the beach were instantly destroyed. Wounded men from the first waves were the most pathetic. Already wounded and awaiting evacuation, they were now annihilated along with the medical personnel attending them. As evening approached, the Marines dug in where they were. On the west coast, Easy Company prepared for the inevitable banzai counterattack, which had become a predictable Japanese tactic.
Jay Rebstock occupied a fighting hole with four other Marines, and he trained his BAR toward the north, envisioning the upcoming, screaming charge. He wondered if he would be able to fire fast enough to beat back the enemy. Darkness came at , and the night turned cold.
Marines shivered in their holes, straining their eyes forward. The Japanese bombardment continued without letup. Each slackening of fire was followed by an increase in intensity. The banzai charge, however, never came. General Kuribayashi forbade any such meaningless charges, which, he correctly concluded, only played into American hands. Instead, he pounded the invading force with ceaseless artillery barrages from well-placed guns, and waited for the invaders to come to him, so he could bleed them white. The next morning, Company E prepared to attack to the north, but as it advanced, Japanese artillery and mortars pounded its positions.
All Rebstock and the men from 2nd Platoon could do was advance and then burrow into the ground. The unseen enemy continued to inflict horrific casualties on the Marines. Yet, the enemy could see them, and Company E was being drained. In the attack on D-plus-1, as the 26th and 27th Marines advanced, there were casualties.
On February 21, D-plus-2, Company E lost its second company commander. Rebstock and the members of the 2nd Platoon prepared for yet another attack on February Suddenly, wild cheering was heard across the front, and ships horns and whistles could be heard from the sea.