Closing in

Closing in : Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima: War in the Pacific

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Sunday, 4 March 1945, marked the end of the second week of the U.S. invasion of Iwo Jima. By this point the assault elements of the 3d, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions were exhausted, their combat efficiency reduced to dangerously low levels. The thrilling sight of the American flag being raised by the 28th Marines on Mount Suribachi had occurred 10 days earlier, a lifetime on "Sulphur Island." The landing forces of the V Amphibious Corps (VAC) had already sustained 13,000 casualties, including 3,000 dead. The "front lines" were a jagged serration across Iwo's fat northern half, still in the middle of the main Japanese defenses. Ahead the going seemed all uphill against a well-disciplined, rarely visible enemy. In the center of the island, the 3d Marine Division units had been up most of the night repelling a small but determined Japanese counterattack which had found the seam between the 21st and 9th Marines. Vicious close combat had cost both sides heavy casualties. The counterattack spoiled the division's preparations for a morning advance. Both regiments made marginal gains against very stiff opposition. To the east the 4th Marine Division had finally captured Hill 382, ending its long exposure in "The Amphitheater," but combat efficiency had fallen to 50 percent. It would drop another five points by nightfall. On this day the 24th Marines, supported by flame tanks, advanced a total of 100 yards, pausing to detonate more than a ton of explosives against enemy cave positions in that sector. The 23d and 25th Marines entered the most difficult terrain yet encountered, broken ground that limited visibility to only a few feet. Along the western flank, the 5th Marine Division had just seized Nishi Ridge and Hill 362-B the previous day, suffering more than 500 casualties. It too had been up most of the night engaging a sizeable force of infiltrators. The Sunday morning attacks lacked coordination, reflecting the division's collective exhaustion. Most rifle companies were at half-strength. The net gain for the day, the division reported, was "practically nil."
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Product details

  • Paperback | 128 pages
  • 215.9 x 279.4 x 7.37mm | 390.09g
  • Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1514150980
  • 9781514150986

About Colonel Joseph H Alexander

Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret), served 29 years on active duty in the Marine Corps as an assault amphibian officer, including two tours in Vietnam. He is a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College and holds degrees in history from North Carolina, Georgetown, and Jacksonville. He is a life member of both the Marine Corps Historical Foundation and the Naval Institute, a member of the Society for Military History, the Military Order of the World Wars, and the North Carolina Writers' Workshop. Colonel Alexander, an independent historian, wrote Across the Reef: The Marine Assault on Tarawa in this series. He is co-author (with Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Bartlett) of Sea Soldiers in the Cold War (Naval Institute Press, 1994) and the author of "Utmost Savagery: the Amphibious Seizure of Tarawa" (Naval Institute Press, pending). He has also written numerous feature essays published in Marine Corps Gazette, Naval Institute Proceedings, Naval History, Leatherneck, Amphibious Warfare Review, World War Two, and Florida Historical Quarterly.
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