This post is dedicated to the memory of Henry Lewis Wicks of 5th Marine Division's 27th Regiment, who died on February 19th, 1945 on the sands of Iwo Jima, and all who were with him on that fateful day.
The invasion of Iwo Jima began on 19 February, 1945. The 27th Marines stormed ashore at 0900 in its designated area of Beaches Red 1 and Red 2. The Regiment was initially assigned the mission of helping to cut off and isolate Mount Suribachi from the rest of the island. As the Marines pushed inland, resistance by the Japanese became more and more determined. Once Mount Suribachi was isolated, the Regiment was ordered to move north to join with the other units in continuing the attack on the main enemy defenses. Rugged terrain, heavy enemy fire, and well placed land mines all combined at times to hold the attacking Marines to a standstill. They repeatedly met the Japanese in hard, close combat.
On 16 March, Iwo Jima was declared secure, although some resistance continued for about two months. The severity of the fighting left 566 killed and 1703 wounded in the 27th Marines alone. Four Marines from the Regiment earned the Medal of Honor (the nation's highest award for valor).
The division landed on Iwo Jima on February 19. They landed on the left northeast of Mount Suribachi and sustained heavy initial losses so much so that by that afternoon the 26th Marines had to be released as the division reserve. The 5th Marine Division would fight on Iwo Jima from February 19 until March 18 where they would sustain 1,098 killed in action and 2,974 wounded in action. This was the highest casualty rate amongst the Marine divisions involved in the invasion.