One hell of a battle. Be inspired by this story. God bless the Greatest Generation.
The conflict there was made all the more famous by an iconic photograph of five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the Stars and Stripes on the fourth day of the engagement on the summit of Mount Suribachi, an extinct, 550-foot volcano at the island’s southwestern tip.
“Many thought it was over, but they hadn’t gotten to the really heavy fighting at that point,” said Sherrill, who went ashore on the island with K Company in the Third Marines, Ninth Battalion, a week after the initial assault.
His unit was there to reinforce two Marine divisions that had taken heavy losses in earlier fighting, and he was among more than 70,000 Marines, Navy corpsmen and Army Air Forces airmen who participated in the five-week assault. The battle eventually claimed more than 6,000 American lives and wounded 19,000. Most of the Japanese on the island died in the conflict.
Four days after Sherrill and his comrades landed on Iwo Jima’s beaches, mortar barrages wiped out two-thirds of his 245-man company.
The survivors spent days dodging grenade attacks and sniper fire. A week after landing, Sherrill, a corporal, was walking near an unfinished airfield, waving his men along, when he locked eyes with a Japanese rifleman.
“The minute I saw him, he fired,” Sherrill said.
There was a sting, and his arm “just dropped.”
A rifleman who was with him shot the Japanese soldier before he had a chance to finish off Sherrill or kill other Americans.