Of the 82 Medals of Honor awarded to Marines in WW2, 22 of them were awarded for this one battle. Another 4 were awarded to Navy Hospital Corpsmen (medics) attached to the Marine Corps. This was the first battle where the defending Japanese inflicted more casualties than they suffered although more Japanese died than U.S.
On Feb. 19, 1945, Iwo Jima, a small, sulfurous fumes-belching Western Pacific Island, was one of the few remaining roadblocks on the route to Japan. There the IJA (Imperial Japanese Army) troops — approximately 21,000 — quietly awaited the arrival of the U.S. Marines V Amphibious Corps. Void of vegetation and covered with countless century-old deposits of volcanic ash and sands, the island had been deliberately denuded by the IJA to give its invaders no vestige of hope or shelter.
Cavernous caves, some housing hundreds of combatants, and complex interconnecting tunnels in Mount Suribachi and smaller hills throughout the island were well-hidden, housing enemy emplacements of artillery, mortars and machine guns little bothered by bombardment from allied battleships and bombers.
Into this waiting, bated maelstrom, wave after wave of young Marines came ashore with hearts racing, with locked and loaded weapons at port, fearful of death or crippling wounds — but they came on, many to never walk again, many buried there and many leaving behind their shredded mortal remains scattered among the volcanic ashes. But they came on……..
The total casualties on Iwo Jima numbered 26,040 with 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded.