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Heading Into the Meat Grinder

iwo jima marines wwii

Iwo Jima, Saturday, 24 February 1945:

On this sixth day of battle, there were more losses in the platoon. Hudson’s squad leader was hit in the leg, a Marine in his platoon “cracked up” after five straight days of rain, and another was transferred to the company command post.


The Fourth Division faced an area called the Meat Grinder where, north of the beaches, a rocky plateau full of caves and canyons hid the core of the Japanese forces. The Fourth Divi­sion was the meat. The Meat Grinder’s three teeth (Hill 382, Turkey Knob, and the Amphitheater) protected one another and had to be taken together or not at all.




To take the Meat Grinder was to break Japanese defense and communication, but the Meat Grinder was the bitterest and most costly part of the Battle of Iwo Jima.


Over several frustrating days, Marines captured Hill 382 almost every time they attacked, but each time the Japanese moved out and started firing at the Hill, driving the Marines back. When the Marines left, the Japanese returned. Likewise, the Marines would charge the Amphitheater easily in the morning, fight bitterly all day, and have to pull back in the evening.

 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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