Operation Detachment

On this day in 1945, the first of 70,000 Marines began landing on the beaches of a small volcanic island in the Pacific named Iwo Jima.

The island was defended by approximately 22,000 Imperial soldiers of Japan. The Japanese could not retreat or hope for reinforcement or rescue. They refused to surrender and were dug in deep.

One month later when the battle was over 6,800 Americans had been killed and 19,000 wounded. Of the Japanese, only 216 were captured and over 21,000 were killed. By comparison, less than 4,500 Americans were killed in the entire Iraq war.

By March 1945 in the European theater of WWII the fighting was winding down in the Western front as Nazi Germany shifted resources to the Eastern front to slow the Soviet advance. Meanwhile the Marines were preparing for the invasion of Okinawa, which was to be the biggest and bloodiest battle of the Pacific theater.

The Japanese leaders knew they were doomed to lose the war. They hoped that their fierce resistance would result in a negotiated end to the war rather than their total defeat. Allied estimates of casualties from the invasion of Japan ran into hundreds of thousands of American deaths and millions of Americans injured.

Ironically, the futile Japanese effort to avoid total defeat resulted in the use of a terrifying new weapon – the atomic bomb.

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26 Responses to Operation Detachment

  1. votermom says:

    Ironically, the futile Japanese effort to avoid total defeat resulted in the use of a terrifying new weapon – the atomic bomb.

    Wouldn’t the bomb have been used in any case?

  2. votermom says:

    Iron Dog starts today.

  3. Rangoon78 says:

    I long subscribed to  the hypotheses that nuking the Japs was for the benefit of the Soviets. 

    Here is the conclusion to an essay by Harvey  Wasserman that adds a twist:

    “So why August 6, and then August 9?
    First was a desire that the Japanese surrender BEFORE the Soviets could get there.
    Second was a desire to show Japan, the Soviets and the world that the US had this weapon, and was willing to use it.
    Third, and most plausible: $2 billion had been spent to develop these weapons.   Jimmy Byrnes, Truman’s Karl Rove of the day, warned that if they weren’t used, Congress and the American public would demand to know where all that money went.”

    • Three Wickets says:

      But it didn’t keep the Soviets from going into Korea which was Japanese territory then, effectively splitting the country in two. Think MacArthur wanted to nuke the Soviets or maybe it was the Chinese to keep Korea unified, but Truman disagreed and fired him.

  4. Three Wickets says:

    Both Clint Eastwood movies on the subject were good. I found Letters from Iwo Jima bit more interesting.

  5. Rangoon78 says:

    I should have put quotes around the phrase “nuking the Japs.”
    I was trying to relate some of the Overt racism that prevailed then in US media toward our Asian Foes. Incinerating these creatures was an easy sell than it would have been for other (European) Axis peoples IMHO.

  6. HELENK says:

    it is still going on in Korea after so many years


    how long until these two learn to live in peace???
    My husband and many friends fought in Korea 60 years ago. There is still no peace.

    • Three Wickets says:

      Maybe the country shouldn’t have been split up in the first place, by the Soviets and Americans.

  7. Three Wickets says:

    This is apparently the most expensive film ever produced in China, set during the Nanjing Massacre.

    • HELENK says:

      My father was in what was called the CBI theatre of war. China , Burma , India. He was a motor sgt helping build the LEDO road. Yes the Chinese suffered under the Japanese and we did all we could to help them.
      But there is another side also. The Chinese warlords attacked OUR convoys, killed OUR soldiers and the American government did not want it made public as China was supposed to be an ally.
      The only mention of It I ever saw was the movie Never So Few.
      My father talked about it when he came home on a hospital ship from over there.

      • Three Wickets says:

        Interesting. Wonder if they were Communists or Nationalists. Probably the Communists. Chinese were having their own civil war within the global war, like the Russian civil war during WWI. Korea was different though. They were one country occupied by Japan since 1910. Then in 1945, the Russians took the top half, the Americans the bottom half.

  8. votermom says:

    Check out the reader poll today at Fox News


    Who would you want to jump in as a Republican candidate in a brokered convention?
    Paul Ryan
    Sarah Palin
    Jeb Bush
    Mitch Daniels
    Chris Christie

  9. foxyladi14 says:

    I VOTED SARAH!!!! 🙂

  10. HELENK says:

    a Palin – Ryan ticket would be good for the country

  11. SHV says:

    “Maybe, but the refusal to surrender after the first bomb led to a second bomb ebing dropped in Nagasaki.”
    It never made sense to me that Japan surrendered after two Atomic bomb strikes. They had sustained many more casualties from “conventional” incendiary bombing. Also all indications were that the Japanese were prepared to repeat what happened on Okinawa as each of the “home” islands were invaded and die to the last person.

    I read about 15 years ago that documents were found in Japanese archives that said that the war cabinet surrender was the result of the Soviet Union entering the war after the Nagasaki bombing; Aug 9, 1945, Up until then, their hope had been to make US casualties so horrendous that the Americans would negotiated for something less than total defeat. After Russia invaded Manchuria on the 9th, any negotiations were hopeless.

    In the argument that using nuclear weapons on Japan was immoral, I think the reverse argument can be made that with the information that Truman had at the time, it would have been immoral not to use a weapon that could end the war. I also find it ironic that in the immorality arguments, I have never seen any mention of the thousands of Chinese, Southeast Asians, etc. who were dying each day as a result of Japanese occupation and that would during any “negotiations” for peace.

    • 1539days says:

      Ultimately, you cannot have a moral war. The Geneva Convention was supposed to normalize the rules for killing people, but many countries either don’t sign on or ignore them.

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