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What is the story behind the image of Marines raising a flag on Iwo Jima?

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Quick Answer

The "flag-raising" image of the Marine Corps was taken five days into the Battle of Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima was the second-to-last engagement of the Pacific front in World War II. The flag-raising photo was taken at the summit of Mt. Suribachi but was not the end of the battle.

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Full Answer

To prepare for invading the home islands of Japan, Gen. MacArthur decided to employ the strategy of island-hopping. This was intended to establish a staging area close to the islands to make the invasion easier. The Battle of Iwo Jima lasted from Feb. 19 to Mar 16, 1945. A joint force of about 70,000 American troops fought against approximately 20,000 Japanese troops, taking over 26,000 casualties with 6,821 deaths.

The 28th Regiment of the Marine Corps 5th Division fought their way to the summit of Mt. Suribachi, located on the southwest tip of the island. Although the famous photograph is thought to be the only one of its kind, there were actually two pictures taken. The first flag wasn't large enough to be seen from sea, so the commanding officer ordered a second, larger, flag to be raised, leading to the photograph that has been reproduced countless times in different media.

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