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U. S. House of Representatives
HONORING THE COURAGE OF THE UNITED STATES MARINES, 5TH DIVISION, AT MOUNT SURIBACHI ON IWO JIMA, JAPAN.
HONORABLE. ED CASE OF HAWAII
IN THE U. S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Mr. CASE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the courage of the first United States Marines to scale the summit of the heavily defended Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, Japan.
Iwo Jima is a small rocky island only two miles wide and four miles long located
approximately 650 miles south of Tokyo, Japan.
It is a volcanic island, much like the island in my home state of Hawaii---a place where cool Pacific breezes rush over soft beaches and birds sing songs learned during long and lonely flights across the wide expanse of ocean.
For a brief moment in time, the island of Iwo Jima became a central battleground of the Empire of Japan and the Allied Forces during those terrible and dark days of World War II. The Allied Forces were determined to take the island in preparation for a final attack on Japan, and the Japanese were unbendable in their desire to defend Iwo Jima and to prevent foreigners from moving any closer to the main island of Japan.
On February 19, 1945, approximately 70,000 American and other Allied Forces and 22,000 Japanese soldiers locked themselves in a horrific battle that would begin the final phase of the War in the Pacific. Entrenched in a series of interlocking caves, blockhouses and pillboxes, the Japanese fought with determination to defend their island. Debarking off a Naval Armada of more than 450 ships, the Allies, led by the United States, brought the full weight of their highly trained and battle tested troops to bear with the determined goal of taking the rocky island no matter what the cost.
The battle for Iwo Jima would be one of the fiercest conflicts of the 2nd World War. Almost 7,000 Americans were killed in action. More than 20,000 were wounded.
Of the 22,000 Japan defenders, only 1,083 survived.
On February 23, 1945, the fifth day of the battle, Marines from the 5th Division were ordered to ascend the slopes of Mt. Suribachi, the main peak controlling the island. Four Marine Squads worked their way up the mountain and, at 10:30 a.m.,
1st Lieutenant Harold Schrier, Platoon Sergeant Ernest Thomas, Sergeant Henry Hansen, Corporal Charles Lindberg, Private First Class James Michels and Private First Class Raymond Jacobs raised the first American Flag there on Mount Suribachi.
Today, when our Nation thinks about the brave soldiers of Iwo Jima, we often visualize the Commanding Bronze Statue resting on the banks of the Potomac River. Most Americans do not realize that this memorial actually depicts the second, much larger flag that was raised over Mount Suribachi, signaling the courage and determination of the United States to every soldier on Iwo Jima and to the Naval Vessels at sea below.
In my home State of Hawaii, the Iwo Jima USMC Memorial Association, Inc. is working to raise the funds necessary to build a larger than life-sized memorial to recognize these brave United States Marines who raised the first American Flag there on Mount Suribachi.
I applaud efforts of the chairman, former Marine, S. Ray "Doc" Fornof of Hilo, Hawaii and hope that every citizen across the nation will support this group dedicated to Honor and recognize the courage of these seven brave United States Marines.