National Archives News

75th Anniversary of the Battle for Iwo Jima

27th Regiment, 2nd Battalion, at Iwo Jima

From February 19 to March 26, 1945, the United States Navy and Marine Corps executed Operation Detachment, the code name for the 36-day American invasion and capture of the heavily fortified Japanese island of Iwo Jima. The tiny volcanic island represented a critical staging area for the United States to launch attacks on the Japanese main islands, and the battle for its capture was one of the bloodiest engagements of World War II.

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Flag Raising on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal

Clip of "Flag Raising on Iwo Jima" via GIPHY (See the clip on YouTube and longer footage in the National Archives Catalog [Identifier 76433)

On the fifth day of Operation Detachment, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the iconic photograph of six Marines raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi. The photo was later used as the model for the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

Although not as well-known as Rosenthal’s photograph, there is also a moving image record of the flag-raising. Marine Sergeant William Homer Genaust shot 16mm color footage of the event. Unfortunately, Sergeant Genaust never left Iwo Jima. Nine days after filming the raising of the flag, he was hit by enemy fire, and his body was never recovered. Sergeant Genaust’s Official Military Personnel file is in the National Archives Catalog.

Explore more records in the National Archives Catalog relating to the Iwo Jima battle. Research World War II and other military records at the National Archives.


Uncommon Valor: The Making of the Marine Corps Memorial

Raising the Flag Over Iwo Jima

Forensic Film Archiving: Who Raised the Flag on Iwo Jima?


Flag Raising on Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima Landings and Beachhead Scenes

Bombardment and Invasion of Iwo Jima Shore Scenes


Gallery of Images