This medal honors the brave US Marines who fought in one of the fiercest battles in the Pacific Theater.
The tiny island of Iwo Jima is just under five miles long and two and a half miles at its widest point. The amphibious assault on Iwo Jima was considered to be the ultimate storm landing, with a striking force of 74,000 Marines. Although planners estimated the attack should have been over within a week or less, they hadn't planned on the stubborn, savvy fighting of the 21,000 Japanese troops on the island, who were experienced in island warfare after their many campaigns in the Pacific.
What started as a quick, violent attack on February 19, 1945, turned into 36 days of some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting the Marines had encountered. The U.S. Marine 4th and 5th Divisions led the invasion, with the 3rd Division in reserve. The first day saw 2,400 American casualties but, during the battle U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers killed an estimated 20,000 Japanese and captured over 1,000 prisoners. On March 25, the Battle of Iwo Jima was finally over, with the U.S. the victor.