The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the most famous battles in World War II, largely due to the famous photograph of the American soldiers raising the flag that was taken on the island and later became the subject of the film and book “Flags of our Fathers.” The Americans invaded the island with the intention of using it as an airbase to bomb Japan.
The Japanese had 21,000 troops to defend against more than 110,000 American attackers. The Japanese deliberately planned the battle to inflict as many American casualties as possible. To this end, they allowed the Americans to land on the beach in masse before opening up with machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire.
The beachhead was turned into a bloodbath, but the American forces managed to fight their way up Mt. Suribachi. Once the mountain had been taken, the Americans then swept over the rest of the island. Bitter fighting continued for over a month.
In the end, virtually all of the 21,000 Japanese garrison was wiped out, with only 216 taken prisoner. The Americans lost 6,800 killed and 19,200 wounded. This was one of the few battles of the Pacific where the overall American casualties were higher than the overall Japanese losses.