The World War II battle of Iwo Jima began 77 years ago on Feb. 19, 1945 and to commemorate the iconic battle in the Pacific Theater of the war, the U.S. Marines released a video on Saturday.
The video features footage of the battle narrated by some of the remarks made by former President Ronald Reagan during his speech to Iwo Jima veterans, including those of 28th Marine Regiment, on Feb. 19, 1985.
“450 United States Navy ships stood off a tiny island in the Pacific. Few Americans had heard of the place. It measured 4 2/3miles by 2 1/2 miles, ash-covered beaches and one extinct, unknown volcano,” Reagan said. “A command was passed to the ships: Land the landing force!”
Prior to the amphibious landing, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Air Corps conducted bombardments and air raids to soften the island’s defenses, controlled by the Japanese.
“No one, not even you, the marines and the Navy corpsmen who stepped ashore from the Amtracs at 2 minutes after 9, knew that what you were about to do would forever enshrine the island, Iwo Jima, and the volcano, Mount Suribachi, in American history,” Reagan said.
“Today Iwo Jima is remembered with other names like Saratoga, the Alamo, Gettysburg — remembered, not simply because Americans were again conspicuously gallant in battle, but because our sons were called upon to endure unspeakable hardship for the sake of freedom,” he continued.
“Your flag-raising at Mount Suribachi — remains a beacon, indeed a birthright, for America’s young people and for every future American,” Reagan’s remarks concluded. “On behalf of all Americans, we salute today, you, the men of Iwo.”
The 36-day battle became one of the deadliest in U.S. history, resulting in a loss of more than 6,800 U.S. troops killed and more than 19,000 wounded.
The battle became famous for the raising of the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi. The flag was raised on the fourth day of the fighting, but the fighting to capture the island and take control of its three strategic airfields would continue for another 32 days.
A picture taken by Joe Rosenthal of the flag raising became an iconic image for the U.S. Marines and inspired the statue of the U.S. Marine Corps memorial near the Arlington National Cemetery.