Famed war correspondent Robert Sherrod was with the Marines when they landed on Iwo Jima. He radioed his editors
, "That first night can only be described as a nightmare in hell...." Here are some highlights from TIME's coverage of World War II's
bloodiest battle in the Pacific:
The Japs knew how vital it was to U.S. forces to capture Iwo. They knew what a blow its loss would be to the defense of Japan. So they packed Iwo with 10,000 to 15,000 men, with casemated heavy coastal guns, well-sited antiaircraft guns, machine-gun nests hewn out of the rock.
From Hell's Acre
Feb. 26, 1945
Two hours after the original landings on D-day, we had a toe hold and it looked like a good one. But all hell broke loose before noon. From the north and from the south the hidden Japs poured artillery and 6-in. mortars into the marines on the beachhead. Nearly all our tanks were clustered near the black-ash beaches like so many black beetles struggling to move on tar paper....
From "It Was Sickening to Watch ..."
Mar. 5, 1945
From bloody Iwo Jima, TIME Correspondent Robert Sherrod, veteran of the Aleutians and Tarawa, last week radioed this account of a night in a front-line Marine hospital....They had cut the private's clothes off. There was a cluster of guts as big as two fists sticking out of the left side of his abdomen, though the hole in the belly was thumb-sized.
From On Iwo Jima
Mar. 19, 1945
The end results of Jap tenacity, natural defenses and weapons might have caused weaker men to falter, but the marines have carried out their assignment with nobility and courage. Everybody has had to take it. Even artillerymen, under the heaviest fire they have seen in the Pacific, have suffered 15% casualties...
From With Nobility and Courage
Mar. 12, 1945
Last week the nation learned just how many Marine soldiers, carrying rifles and grenades, had paid the price to take Iwo Jima: 4,189 dead, 441 missing, 15,308 wounded -- total casualties of 19,938. This was as high as Tarawa and Saipan combined, higher than the number of Union casualties in any of the bloody battles of the Civil War except Gettysburg.
From No Stopping
Mar. 26, 1945
By last week, the picture of the Iwo Jima flag raising, which had already made almost every front page in the land, was turning up again in fancy, full-page color in U.S. Sunday papers. It was easily the most widely printed photograph of World War II.
From Story of a Picture
Mar. 26, 1945
Three of the six flag-raisers were killed in the battle for Iwo Jima. After the battle ended, Hayes and the other two survivors were ordered back to the U.S. by President Roosevelt. They were lionized from coast to coast. Rene Gagnon and John Bradley took it in stride, but Ira Hayes, a shy and bewildered Pima Indian, found the hero's role hard to play....
From Then There Were Two
Feb. 7, 1955
Through last weekend, the Oscar-nominated Letters of Iwo Jima had grossed just under $40 million, earning it the top spot during the Japanese cinema industry's all-important New Year holiday season. Not bad for a downbeat movie that chronicles one of Japan's bitterest defeats -- one that has rarely been the subject of a Japanese film.
From Postcard from Tokyo:
Watching Iwo Jima in Japan
Jan. 24, 2007