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OTD In History: America Takes Control Of Iwo Jima And The Most Iconic Video Of The Pacific Theater Of WWII Is Forever Immortalized

Note: I've said it 1000x, but WWII in Colour and it's offshoots are the best documentaries in the game. Unbelievable footage that took 10+ years to scavenge. It's gut wrenching but I've seen it probably 5-6 times over the years and it doesn't get old.

I saw on IG this morning that today is the 77th anniversary of The Americans taking control of Iwo Jima. The planting of the American flag on that tiny, remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a major part of American history. Conquering that island and planting the American flag on it gave us the most iconic picture/video taken during the Pacific Theater of WWII and perhaps of all of WWII. 

There's a statue in Arlington, VA, the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial Statue:

Mark Wilson. Getty Images.

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Fucking beautiful. 

The Americans taking control of Iwo Jima was a major turning point for the war in the Pacific. I got really into WWII history over the last 5-6 years. Most of these fun facts are derived from WWII in Colour, other WWII docs, and of course our good friends at Wikipedia.

Let's continue. Below is a picture of Iwo Jima:

Eric Talmadge. Shutterstock Images.

Another fun fact: Japanese soldiers were found hiding on different Pacific islands well into the 1970s. They had no idea the war had been over for 30 years already 

You might see a small, random, nothing island in the middle of the largest body of water on the planet in the picture above, and that's fair. Today, aside from the island's symbolism, that's all it is. 

From 1941 through 1945, however, it was a really freaking important place. Today we look at it as a nice little tropical island, but in the 4 years between 1941 and '45 Marines and the American Navy looked at it as a natural aircraft carrier; an island that would allow Americans to control 3 corners of the Pacific. Taking control of Iwo Jima meant the Americans could eventually attack the Japanese mainland with long ranger bombers that were also guided by fighter planes. Prior to Iwo Jima's capture, the Americans couldn't attack the Japanese mainland even if they wanted to. This was because their guide planes didn't have the range to make it to the mainland, and if long range bombers went alone, they'd be blown out of the air with ease because they were slower and had less maneuverability. 

We all know the flag raising at Iwo Jima was the star of the show, though. But the video we all know, love and have immortalized was staged. Kinda. After initially raiding Iwo Jima, the Americans fought the Japanese for a handful of days before taking over strong points on the island. It was brutal warfare; Japan dug tunnels and booby trapped the entire island head to toe. Over the 4-5 week battle, over 7000 American soldiers lost their lives. 

On February 23rd of 1945, the Americans finally took the most important part of the island in the wee hours of the morning though, the volcanic mountain top from the picture above. After accomplishing this, they decided to plant a flag at the top of the top of it. At the instruction of officers, a platoon of about 40 marines climbed the mountain and planted an American flag. Three marines from that platoon raised the flag.

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Those three marines were:

- First Lieutenant Harold G. Schrier
- Platoon Sergeant Ernest Thomas
- Sergeant Oliver Hansen

After they raised the flag, American cheers were heard bellowing from below at the base of the mountain. Knowing the importance of what they just accomplished and after seeing the reaction from the 1000s of soldiers at the base of the mountain, Marine leadership instructed a larger flag to be planted and filmed not just so the flag could be seen from ever corner of the tiny little island, but also so the entire world could see what was going down in the Pacific. This was the iconic shot that was circulated world wide over the next handful of days: 

Giphy Images.

Oh, and it was a big middle finger "fuck you" to the Japanese

This flag raising symbolized what was perhaps the start of the end for the Japanese in WWII, but it was the 2nd time they raised a flag that day. We're going to say the 3 original Marines names again because because they kinda/sorta got cucked, yet their names deserve to be immortalized just as much as the marines who raised flag 2:

- First Lieutenant Harold G. Schrier
- Platoon Sergeant Ernest Thomas
- Sergeant Oliver Hansen

For the second flag raising, the following 6 marines hoisted the flag: Corporal Harlon Block, Private first class Harold Keller, Private first class Franklin Sousley, Sergeant Michael Strank, Private first class Harold Schultz and Private first class Ira Hayes.

Though the flag was firmly planted at the top of the island, that didn't mean fighting on Iwo Jima was finished though. Over the next 3 weeks, the Japanese fought to their deaths and 3 of the marines that rose flag #2 were killed: Corporal Harlon Block, PFC Franklin Sousley, and Sergeant Michael Strank. It wasn't until March 16th of 1945 that Iwo Jima was officially secured by the Americans. 

From then on we'd go to take Okinawa island, the closest island to Japan's mainland, and then after multiple warnings by President Truman…

Giphy Images.

If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware -  President Harry Truman

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Boom. President Truman's warning speech gives me the chills every time I hear it. Not in a good "I'm getting pumped up" chills, more "just listen to this fucking guy so you don't get your entire country flattened" chills. Nevertheless, that was the end of the war in the Pacific. Shoutout Emperor Hirohito for coming to his senses. If it weren't for him we seriously might have turned the entire island of Japan into a parking lot, as most of Japan's leadership didn't want to surrender. Not even after the 2nd nuke was dropped. They truly wanted to fight to their death. The emperor had the deciding vote, though, and thank god he did and was rational. 

But none of this happens if we don't take Iwo Jima first. That's not me throwing shade at the islands we had to take in the Philippines, Guadalcanal, Midway Island (though we got REALLY lucky at the battle of Midway), or anywhere else, but Iwo Jima was the island where we could safely go, "yep, it's our war to lose now."

Like I said, watch WWII in Colour, The greatest events of WWII in Color, WWII in Color: Road to Victory, Hitler's Circle of Evil, WWII in HD, and whatever else they have on Netflix. All of those documentaries really put into perspective what a bunch of whiny bitches we've become. Anniversaries like the today, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, should serve as a reminder that we got it pretty, pretty good here. Almost half a million Americans gave their lives in that 4 year stretch so we could all bitch and moan about wearing masks 80 years later. 

Pour one out today for them. That was talking WWII history with WSD. Hope ya learned a thing or two.