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IWO JIMA

The 31st Naval Construction Battalion participated in the battle for the Japanese held volcanic island of Iwo Jima.  Marines and Seabees stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima on February 19th 1945 after days of bombardment by US Navy ships offshore.  Despite the bombing, the Japanese soldiers fought tenaciously to keep this strategically significant island under Japan's control. 

Over 7,000 Marines and Seabees lost their lives during the battle. When the high-point of the island, Mt. Suribachi, was taken under US control a US Flag was raised by Marines and sailors who had reached the summit.  Joe Rosenthal, a war journalist, snapped a photo of the flag raising that would immortalize the valor of the men who died on Iwo and become an enduring symbol of American resolve and courage.

The men of the 31st Seabees were attached to the 5th Marine Division during the invasion.  They fought along side their Marine counterparts and provided essential resupply efforts during the invasion.  They drove LSTs, provided staging areas for supplies, transported wounded back to our ships and helped bury the dead.   Later the 31st established a base camp to provide food and shelter to the forces on the island and built the road up Suribachi and a runway that would be used for forward refueling and repair of B-29s headed for Japan.

Memorials on Iwo Jima

Several memorials were constructed on Iwo Jima to honor the men who served there.  The 31st Seabees constructed the memorial at the summit of Mt. Suribachi where the flag raising took place. In addition, Seabee Waldon Rich carved a sculpture in a sandstone cliff that he copied from a newspaper photo of the flag raising sent to him by his mother.

The 31st Seabees also constructed the memorial in the 5th Marine Division cemetery on Iwo Jima.  The links below provide additional information and photos of these memorials.

Sculpture Mt. Suribachi 5th Mar. Div. Iwo Photos - modern Iwo Slide Show

 

 

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