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Battalion Moves Ahead, Regimental Combat Team Stuck

iwo jima marines wwii

Iwo Jima, Friday, 2 March 1945

This picture shows bomb craters on the rim of and inside the volcanic crater of Mount Suribachi.

After so many bombs had moved so much dirt, terrain maps made before the invasion were fairly useless. On this elev­enth day of battle and sixth straight day of fighting in the Meat Grinder, Regimental Combat Team (RCT) 25 tried to surprise the Japanese by attacking Turkey Knob without firing artillery first. When the Japanese noticed them moving forward, RCT 25 poured fire into the blockhouse on top of Turkey Knob. The Japanese hung on. RCT 25 took heavy casualties and had to withdraw. Discouragingly, RCT 25 finished the day back in the position they had started from that morning. Battalion 3/25, on the far right, was supposed to hold its position, not attack, but sitting there getting hit by mortar fire was frustrating. Finally, in the afternoon, 3/25 got permission to move ahead. They quickly took three hundred yards and dug in on new ground for the night.

This photo of a Fifth Division soldier at the base of Mount Suribachi was released on 2 March. Probably it contributed to people back home wondering, what are the Marines up to? Why is it taking so long to conquer this speck in the Pacific?

Excerpts are from Fighting the Unbeatable Foe: Iwo Jima and Los Alamos, now republished as a 75th anniversary edition in paperback and Kindle.

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