On February 23rd, 1945, US Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment took the high ground over Iwo Jima, Japan; raising the American flag over Mount Suribachi after the Allies year-long quest to vanquish the Empire of Japan from the Pacific.
The image of soldiers hoisting the American flag would become one of the most iconic photographs ever taken.
The territory was vital to the Allied Forces. The Pentagon wanted local airfields to launch future strikes against Japan. Officials in Tokyo knew the island was the Empire’s last line of defense against the approaching Americans.
Starting in June 1944, the US Navy began bombarding Iwo Jima.
American soldiers stormed the beaches on February 19th but met little resistance. As the troops moved inland, they encountered brutal Japanese defenses.
On February 23rd, US forces won the high ground on Mount Suribachi. Once the top was secured, an American flag was attached to a damaged water pipe and raised over the island.
It was the first foreign flag to fly over Japanese soil in human history.
In total, 7,000 Marines died to secure Iwo Jima. More than 20,000 Japanese perished in the assault.