The first flag on Iwo Jima: On Feb. 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions stormed ashore on Iwo Jima. The battle continued with the Japanese into March during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The U.S. invasion, known as Operation Detachment, was charged with the mission of capturing the airfields on Iwo Jima.
Iwo Jima is a volcanic island about 1,200 km (650 nautical miles) south of Tokyo, 1,300 km (702 nautical miles) north of Guam and approximately halfway between Tokyo and Saipan (24.756°N, 141.290°E). It is approximately 21 square kilometers (5,200 ac), with Mount Suribachi at its southern tip being its most prominent feature. In June 2007 the island was officially renamed Iwo To, a name that had been used by local residents before the war. The name was changed on protest from former residents and after two popular Clint Eastwood films (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima) eferenced the island as Iwo Jima. The Japanese characters for Iwo Jima and Iwo To are the same, but the pronunciation changed when Japanese soldiers arrived and pronounced it differently than the residents.
After the American seizure of the Marshall Islands and devastating air attacks against Truk in the Caroline Islands in February 1944 the Japanese military leadership reappraised the military situation. All indications pointed to an American drive towards the Marianas and Carolines. To counter such a move they established an inner line of defense extending generally northward from the Carolines to the Marianas, and thence to the Ogasawara Islands. In March 1944 the Thirty-First Army, commanded by General Hideyoshi Obata, was activated for the purpose of garrisoning this inner line. The commander of the Chichi Jima garrison was placed nominally in command of Army and Navy units in the Ogasawara Islands.
In the light of the above situation, seeing that it was impossible to conduct our air, sea, and ground operations on Iwo Jima toward ultimate victory, it was decided that in order to gain time necessary for the preparation of the Homeland defence, our forces should rely solely upon the established defensive equipment in that area, checking the enemy by delaying tactics. Even the suicidal attacks by small groups of our Army and Navy airplanes, the surprise attacks by our submarines, and the actions of parachute units, although effective, could be regarded only as a strategical ruse on our part. It was a most depressing thought that we had no available means left for the exploitation of the strategical opportunities which might from time to time occur in the course of these operations.