February 22, 2010, - 10:53 am

65 Years Since Iwo Jima: An Important Anniversary

By Debbie Schlussel


Meant to get to this on Friday, and I’d be remiss not to recognize it.  Friday was the 65th anniversary of start of the Battle at Iwo Jima, the bloodiest battle in U.S. Marine Corps history and an important American victory over the Japanese in World War II.


Iwo Jima, 1945 by Photographer Joe Rosenthal

On February 19, 1945, U.S. Marines invaded the island of Iwo Jima, and while they lost many, the fight they won there helped turn the tide in the Pacific theater.  70,000 Marines fought at Iwo Jima.  Nearly 7,000 were killed and nearly 20,000 wounded in fighting in February and March. It is the setting of the famous Joe Rosenthal photo of American soldiers (five Marines and a Navy Corpsman) raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi.

Sadly, very few of the brave men who fought with such valor at Iwo Jima are still around. Those who survive are in their 80s, and they are dying out. Maybe that’s why there was so little mainstream media coverage of the 65th anniversary, Friday. But, hey, Tiger Woods’ staged apology about his harem was far more important, right?

And, unfortunately, two of the most famous, recent movies about the battle are anti-American screeds directed by Clint Eastwood, “Letters From Iwo Jima” (which portrays American soldiers as savage, torturing brutes versus classy, “nice guy” Japanese soldiers–read my review) and “Flags of Our Fathers” (which portrays our soldiers as troubled, drunken losers who were used as propaganda by the American government–read my review).

Read about Thomas Rozga, age 87, a pilot and commanding officer of a squadron of L-5Bs, also called Flying Jeeps and Stinsons, while serving with a U.S. Marine Corps observation unit in the Pacific. On Friday, he flew the L-5B, he flew over Iwo Jima.

From a Kankakee, IL event commemorating the battle:

“Anytime I think about Iwo. I think about all the guys I left over there,” said Leonard Klenzak, a 90-year-old Bradley [Illinois] recruit who served there. “There were so many of them that were good friends.”

Three local Marines – Klenzak, Charles Vaughn, 90, of Kankakee, and Rene Pommier, 86, of St. George, were honored; as was Sam Weldon, 84, of Champaign.

I pray for all of these survivors of this courageous battle.  May they be comforted in their last years.  And may they get more of the recognition they deserve than the treatment our media is giving them now.


**** UPDATE: Reader Sean who served in the U.S. Army writes:

Hi Debbie

Thank you for posting on the anniversary of Iwo Jima.

I’m disheartened by the way our media has forgotten that vicious battle that bought victory at such a high price. But I do want to take up one point with your post, and as my subject line says it’s a nitpick. You mentioned that the battle helped turn the tide in the Pacific. But by the time the invasion commenced, victory was becoming more certain with each passing week. The
capture of Iwo Jima had two goals. First, to deny the enemy a base with airfields in the path of the B-29s bombing Japan, and second to provide the B-29s an emergency landing location if they couldn’t make it back to their home fields. Iwo Jima was probably the beginning of the end for Japan, because Iwo Jima was considered part of the home islands. So technically it was the first time Japan itself was invaded. The Battle of Midway is
usually considered the turning point in the Pacific war, although some debate that too.

Thanks for remembering the important things!

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24 Responses

Since the highly intelligent, (Totally Phony)Reverend Wright believes that December 7th,1941 was the day we nuked Hiroshima, I wonder what date he attaches to this? Or if he’s even aware of it, especially,as someone of his age and generation? Clearly not, his fevered,twisted, infantile mind so blind with pathological ignorance and racism against Whites and Jews.

Phineas on February 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

Phineas…its OK. All this never happened because Japan has officially changed the name. It is no longer referred to as Iwo Jima. You see? just pretend it never happened/and it never happened. Maybe San Antonio will change the name of The Alamo….

#1 Vato on February 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    The name Iwo Jima was not actually changed. It is now called Iwo To which is just another way of saying Iwo Jima in Japanese. Learn something before you make you uneducated comments.

    Bud Taylor on July 17, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Good story. I wasn’t happy with Eastwoods movies either. All that smog and sun in Cali obviously melted some of the membranes.
When my son comes back from the sandbox, I’ll be there for him.

Joe on February 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    I haven’t yet seen it, but there is a movie out called “The League of Grateful Sons”. It is shot on location in Iwo Jima, Guam and Hawaii…bringing back several veterans and their families to where they served during WWII. I’m assuming it’s better than Eastwood’s movie.

    LifeInaShoe on February 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm

      I saw one on cable last year about going back to Tarawa. Very good. Heart breaking watching old vets look around the island and speaking of the horrible battle. It’s now a fishery. They occassionally unearth human remains as the sand shifts.

      Joe on February 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Thank God for the atomic bombs on Japan. We could have lost a lot more troops without it, or we could have been speaking Japanese…

GREAT story.

goldenmike4393 on February 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

These brave men need not worry about their legacy. As long as there is a U.S.M.C., their actions will always be remembered. Here are some quotes about Marines. Semper Fi!!

“Old breed? New breed? There’s not a damn bit of difference so long as it’s the Marine breed.”
Lieutenant General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, USMC

“Come on you bastards, do you want to live forever?”
Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly, USMC

“You’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!”
Capt. Henry P. Crowe, USMC

“There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.”
Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army

“The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”
Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945

Jarhead on February 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm

May light perpetual shine upon them and their deeds.

Worry01 on February 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm

..it’s a good thing that in WWII we didn’t have as many neo-traits as we now have ..infesting our country…undermining our military while benefiting from the security they provide.

Catfur on February 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Semper Fi. My father was on Iwo. The Japanese renamed it to the original name. There was no attempt to whitewash history. To them the island is a sacred graveyard of their young men. My father will tell you that the Japanese on Iwo were some of the finest, bravest soldiers the world has ever seen. They just ran into warriors who were even better: the United States Marine Corps. We can thank these brave Marines for our freedom and for the peace that now exists between Japan and America. BTW, Debbie Midway and Guadalcanal were the turning points. Iwo was the beginning of the end. Also, Feb. 19 was the invasion date. But the island didn’t fall for a month. So today is as good a day as any to remember the battle.

Fleiter on February 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

If you spoke Japanese and understood their culture, perhaps you would realize how this battle in particular is down played in public schools as well as in theatre. The public today would never stand for such horrific casualties. My dad was there too. I think they lost 2,100 Marines in the first 24-hours on Tarawa which was another WWII bloodbath, but imagine these casualties in 2010. The Japanese had no realistic intention of ‘winning’ on Iwo. Iwo strategically sits right between Saipan and mainland Japan. Imagine how insulted they must have been when they got their arses whacked by the USMC. The Marines performed with honor and distinction, and I am not sure such galantry could be replicated today.

#1 Vato on February 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Thomas Sowell in his recent “Intellectuals and Society” relates how the intellectuals of the interwar years downplayed the heroism of their country’s soldiers, promoted pacifism, and insisted that those who promoted strengthening their country’s military strength obviously “enjoy war”. Today’s “elites” are simply doing what their predecessors have done.

Raymond in DC on February 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Thank you for remembering…as a former 1st Lt. of Marines/retired FBI SRA, my heart is sad to see the direction our country is heading.

My Dad was an Irish immigrant that joined the US Army and landed at Omaha Beach…and fought to the Remagen, he NEVER spoke of his experiences until the night before he went home to be with the LORD….

All men and women who choose to serve this great Nation in ANY of our Armed Services are heroes, and I thank GOD for each and every one of them, freedom comes at a huge price, and the future will claim many American Patriots.

GOD bless all, jim kennedy….Semper Fi

jim kennedy on February 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Thank you for posting this Debbie.

My Uncle was on Iwo as a young Marine. The amazing thing is that he never spoke about his wartime experiences until the year before he died. I got the chills when he told me that of the roughly 200 guys in his Company, 30 made it out of there without being wounded or killed. He wasn’t one of them and always walked with a limp. He told me that the scary thing was that there were no “lines” and you couldnt go behind the “lines” and rest because the Japanese had hidden tunnels everywhere and they would come out at night. So, all of the Marines barely slept for a month during the battle.

I can’t imagine that, but they improvised and overcame and won. Semper Fi Uncle Frank and to all the Marines who were on Iwo Jima.

jimmyPx on February 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I have noticed that any war movie made today somehow must show the American soldier, as a psycho, loser or both. There is nothing redeeming except the lone soldier that opposes the war. That soldier is shown as free thinking, stable, and most important heroic to go against the grain of patriotism. I really have not found any movie agreeable to my palate after Mel Gibson’s (I know how you feel about him Debbie :-/) WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE. BLACK HAWK DOWN was also agreeable. The other anti-military movies that came out while President Bush’s last term I have not seen and care not to see them. Just sad that after the veterans are gone, only a fewer handful of people will know how the war was fought.

Mario on February 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm

BTW, today is the 174th anniversary of the beginning of the Alamo siege, who’s native-born defenders were Spanish surnamed. (Plenty of Mexicans had cause to hate Santa Anna & want to be rid of him.) It was the Mexican flag of 1824 that was flown by the defenders. Truth is always more interesting than fiction. And a hearty Semper Fidelis, USMC! One of my sons is a former Marine & the Corps is truly one of the most positive influences in his life.

Holmes on February 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Debbie, Thanks so much for remembering the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Though many films have been made, and many books written about the Pacific War, the focus by the media has generally trended toward the European/North African/Eastern Europe/Russian theaters
of war.

Here’s an amazing fact that kind of proves how ferociously our brave American Marines and US Navy Sailors fought and died on Iwo Jima:

In the one month-long battle, 27 Medal of Honor citations were awarded. 23 marines and 4 US Navy sailors. The Medal of Honor is our highest Military honor.

82 Medal of Honor citations were awarded to the US Marines in World War 2.


How mind boggling is that?

I have travelled fairly extensively in the South Pacific and the Far East, and one of my goals is to, one day, visit Iwo Jima itself.

Though I was born well after World War 2 ended, I have such enormous respect for those who protected and fought for our way of life back then.

It will be an extremely emotional visit, I’m sure.

Thanks Debbie again, for remembering…..

Shel on February 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Great post! God bless our troops past and present. I always learn so much from your posts and those who leave comments. Thanks for sharing and keeping the memory of these great heroes in our minds&hearts. If only the lame stream media would find the significance in this important piece of history, over Tiger Woods pathetic speech. Scary to think what future history books might contain…or not reveal.

freedom4usa on February 22, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Thanks for the post on Iwo Jima, Debbie. It’s so important for a nation to remember, but sadly (or even tragically) we are infested with so many government educated zombies who believe world history began on their birthday! And may God bless and keep our Marines!(as well as the Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Merchant Marines, Fire Fighters, and Law enforcement front liners[whew])

T. Y. on February 23, 2010 at 12:41 am

Nice write up. Something we should never forget. Amazing to read what those who fought were willing to do. Thanks for bringing up the article. We can never thank enough those who proudly served for our freedoms.

CaliforniaScreaming on February 23, 2010 at 4:28 am

Debbie, once again as a fan of sign-off and the Star Spangled Banner, I give you this from Cleveland’s WUAB-TV when it was ending its day in 1981…


Forgive the condition of the film and video, but that’s how it was back then.

Bob Porrazzo on February 23, 2010 at 6:29 am

I think the new HBO mini series, The Pacific, will do the US Marines of WWII justice. I have read all the books associated with that and a few more and so far, the series seems to be on track, fair and accurate.

Deke on March 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

A great article, Debbie. I was only nine years old when this battle took place, but I remember how proud my family and I were of those Marines, as well as the other servicemen in the Second World War. I have a friend, now living in Dallas, who was on Suribachi when the second flag went up. He said he had no idea that the raising would be such an Icon of the Marines and the Pacific war. He was about 16 or 17 years old at the time, having lied about his age to get in the Marines.
Thanks again for recognizing this most important memory of our fighting men in WWII.

Joel Harrell on August 11, 2010 at 11:22 am

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