Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012
Feb. 23, 1945, during World War II, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal takes the iconic photograph of six U.S. soldiers struggling to raise the American flag at the crest of 550-foot Mount Suribachi, Japan, during the bloody Battle of Iwo Jima. The famous photograph, which visually captures a significant turning point in the war, wins Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize and becomes the most reproduced photograph in history. With three of the six soldiers in the photograph killed before the conclusion of the battle in March 1945, the image goes on to be a symbolic reminder of the tremendous death toll on both sides resulting from the vicious Battle of Iwo Jima. In a month of fierce fighting, it is estimated that over 21,000 Japanese soldiers and more than 6,000 Americans are killed. Iwo Jima is part of the Volcano Islands archipelago in far southern Japan.
In August 2011, 66 years after the Battle of Iwo Jima, the government of Japan announced plans to dispatch survey teams to the island in order to begin preliminary investigations of the historic sites in an effort to recover the remains of the 12,000 Japanese soldiers missing after the Battle of Iwo Jima. Last year, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration provided the Japanese Health Ministry with a document identifying four sites on the island where there was intense fighting and the American forces are believed to have buried the fallen Japanese troops.