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Marines who have paid the ultimate price on Iwo Jima are captured in fascinating historical images

Historical footage of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II – with the iconic image of American Marines planting the Stars and Stripes on a mountain top – was released on the occasion of her 75th birthday.

Nearly 7,000 American troops lost their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima along with nearly all 21,000 Japanese soldiers who defended the Pacific island in February 1945.

It was the first piece of Japanese soil conquered by the Allies and is perhaps most remembered for the photo of Marines planting the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi – one of the most iconic images of the war.

But that photo is far from being the only picture of the bloodiest fight in the history of Marine Corps.

The Moving Image Research collections of the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with the History Division of the Marine Corps, are digitizing films made by more than 50 marine cameramen during the 36-day fight on the 8 square mile island of Iwo Jima operated. .

The goal is to provide public access to the video and increase historical insight, says Greg Wilsbacher, curator of the university of news film and military collections.

Two Marines kneel with a dog in front of a serious marker while honoring nearly 7,000 troops who have lost their lives in battle

Two Marines kneel with a dog in front of a serious marker while honoring nearly 7,000 troops who have lost their lives in battle

Nearly 7,000 American troops lost their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima along with nearly all 21,000 Japanese soldiers who defended the Pacific island in February 1945

Nearly 7,000 American troops lost their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima along with nearly all 21,000 Japanese soldiers who defended the Pacific island in February 1945

Nearly 7,000 American troops lost their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima along with nearly all 21,000 Japanese soldiers who defended the Pacific island in February 1945

The Moving Image Research collections of the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with the History Division of the Marine Corps, digitize films made by more than 50 cameramen at sea

The Moving Image Research collections of the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with the History Division of the Marine Corps, digitize films made by more than 50 cameramen at sea

The Moving Image Research collections of the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with the History Division of the Marine Corps, digitize films made by more than 50 cameramen at sea

The goal is to provide public access to the video and increase historical insight, said Greg Wilsbacher, curator of the university of news film and military collections.

The goal is to provide public access to the video and increase historical insight, said Greg Wilsbacher, curator of the university of news film and military collections.

The goal is to provide public access to the video and increase historical insight, said Greg Wilsbacher, curator of the university of news film and military collections.

He said the images were just “emotionally influential” as the iconic photo of the troops planting the Stars and Stripes.

He said: ‘It can even bring Americans closer to a war that ended in the middle of the last century.

‘Take only one scene, for example, two Marines kneel with a dog in front of a serious marker.

‘It’s in the last frames of a film that documents the dedication of one of the three cemeteries on the island.

“Those two Marines are hundreds present to remember the more than 6,000 Americans killed on the island in more than a month of fighting.

“The series was deliberately framed by the cinematographer, who was clearly looking for the right image to end the film roll in his camera.”

Nearly 7,000 American troops lost their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima along with nearly all 21,000 Japanese soldiers who defended the Pacific island in February 1945

Nearly 7,000 American troops lost their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima along with nearly all 21,000 Japanese soldiers who defended the Pacific island in February 1945

Nearly 7,000 American troops lost their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima along with nearly all 21,000 Japanese soldiers who defended the Pacific island in February 1945

More than 6,800 Americans were killed on the island and on ships and landing craft that assisted in the attack; more than 19,200 were injured

More than 6,800 Americans were killed on the island and on ships and landing craft that assisted in the attack; more than 19,200 were injured

More than 6,800 Americans were killed on the island and on ships and landing craft that assisted in the attack; more than 19,200 were injured

The Moving Image Research collections of the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with the History Division of the Marine Corps, digitize films made by more than 50 cameramen at sea

The Moving Image Research collections of the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with the History Division of the Marine Corps, digitize films made by more than 50 cameramen at sea

The Moving Image Research collections of the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with the History Division of the Marine Corps, digitize films made by more than 50 cameramen at sea

Wilsbacher said he came across the clip as he went through thousands of hours of shooting by Marine Corps photographers from World War II to the 1970s.

He said: “In the past two years of scanning, I have come to realize that our work also enables a more powerful relationship with the past by promoting individual connections to videos, something that makes it possible to digitize the large amount of footage.”

Iwo Jima, an island in the western Pacific, less than 1500 kilometers south of Tokyo, was considered an important potential stepping stone into an invasion of Japan itself.

During the struggle to conquer the island of the Japanese, more than 70,000 Marines and attached army and navy personnel set foot on Iwo Jima.

That included combat soldiers, but also medical corpsmen, chaplains, service and supply soldiers and others.

More than 6,800 Americans were killed on the island and on ships and landing craft that assisted in the attack; more than 19,200 were injured.

More than 50 naval combatants operated over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima during the battle, which stretched from February 19 to March 26, 1945.

Many shot still images, but at least 26 shot moving images. Three of these Marine cinematographers were killed in action.

Even before the battle began, the leaders of the Marine Corps knew they wanted a comprehensive visual report of the battle.

More than 6,800 Americans were killed on ships and landing craft that assisted in the attack; more than 19,200 were injured

More than 6,800 Americans were killed on ships and landing craft that assisted in the attack; more than 19,200 were injured

More than 6,800 Americans were killed on ships and landing craft that assisted in the attack; more than 19,200 were injured

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

In addition to a historical record, combat photography by Iwo Jima would help with planning and training for the invasion of the main Japanese islands.

Some cameramen at sea were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities such as engineering and medical operations.

Most cameramen on Iwo Jima used 100-reel film reels that could capture about two and a half minutes of film.

Sgt. Genaust, who shot the color series on Suribachi, shot at least 25 roles – just over an hour of film – before he was killed, about half way through the campaign.

Other cameramen who survived the entire fight produced considerably more. Sgt. Francis Cockrell was assigned to document the work of the medical activities of the 5th Division. He photographed at least 89 reels and probably produced nearly four hours of film.

Sgt. Louis L. Louft fought with the 13th Marines, an artillery regiment; his more than 100 film roles probably resulted in more than four hours of content.

Landing on the beach with engineers from the 4th Division on February 25, 1945, Pfc. Angelo S. Abramo collected more than three hours of material in the month in which he witnessed.

At least 26 cameramen have made film recordings, while the rest have taken photos. Three of the Marine cinematographers were killed in action

At least 26 cameramen have made film recordings, while the rest have taken photos. Three of the Marine cinematographers were killed in action

At least 26 cameramen have made film recordings, while the rest have taken photos. Three of the Marine cinematographers were killed in action

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

Even taking a conservative average of one hour of film from each of the 26 combat cameramen, suggesting that there was at least 24 hours of unique film from the battle.

Many of the remaining elements of this record are now part of the Marine Corps History Division movie library with which we collaborate. The rest is cataloged by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Although military historians who visited the History Division in the past have used this large library, most of his films are not immediately available to the public, something that finally makes mass digitization possible.

For many decades, the visual records of marines have been viewed by the public as only fragmentary, often with selected sections used as mere stock material in films, documentaries and news programs, because a shot has action, not because of the historical context of the images.

Even if they are used responsibly by documentary makers, the editing and selection of scenes imposes the film maker’s interpretation on the images.

Wilsbacher said, “As a historian and archivist, however, I believe it is important for people to come into direct contact with historical sources of all kinds, including the films of Iwo Jima.”

After the battle, the Americans buried their dead in temporary cemeteries awaiting transportation back to the US. The film segment just before the scene of the grave shows a service in honor of the Americans of all backgrounds who had bled and died together.

In that service, Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, the very first Jewish chaplain of the Navy, gave an eulogy that has become one of the most cherished texts of the Marine Corps. Gittelsohn noted the diversity of the dead and said: “Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor … together. Here are Protestants, Catholics and Jews together. Here no one prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. “

During the fight in February 1945, at least 24 hours of recordings were made by cameramen from the Marines

During the fight in February 1945, at least 24 hours of recordings were made by cameramen from the Marines

During the fight in February 1945, at least 24 hours of recordings were made by cameramen from the Marines

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

More than 50 naval combatants operated during the battle over the eight square miles of Iwo Jima

Gittelsohn called their collective sacrifice “the highest and purest democracy.”

After the initiation ceremony, Marines walked across the cemetery of the 5th Division in search of famous names. The photographers were there and one took the images of the two Marines – names unknown – and the dog, at a grave with only the number 322 as visible marker.

Wilsbacher said: “The image stood out. The two Marines who looked directly into the camera seemed to reach for decades to force a reaction.

“History Division researchers identified the Navy under marker 322 as Pfc. Ernest Langbeen from Chicago.

“It felt fitting and important to add his name to the online description for that movie, so I did.

“I then found members of the Langbeen family and told them that this part of their family’s history existed in the collections of the History division and has now been preserved and available online for more than seven decades.

“Speaking to the family, I learned more about the Navy in grave 322.

“One of the two Marines in the photo is perhaps his best friend from before the war, a friend who has joined him in the corps.

“They asked to serve together and were assigned to the same unit, the 13th regiment.

‘Now relatives who have never known this Marine have a new bond with their history and the history of the country. There will be more connections for others.

‘The digital archive that we are building makes it easier for researchers and the general public to explore the military and personal history in every frame of every film.

‘The visual library of more than 80 online videos from Iwo Jima contains numerous Pfc. Langbeens, ordinary Americans whose lives were disrupted by a global war. Each film contains traces of lives briefly or otherwise irrevocably changed.

‘The films recall that 75 years after the Second World War, all Americans are still connected to Iwo Jima and battlefields around the world such as Monte Cassino, Peleliu, Bataan and Colleville-sur-mer.

“Americans may find their family members in these images, or maybe not.

“But what they will find is proof of the sacrifices made by those who fight on their behalf, sacrifices that connect every American with the struggle for Iwo Jima.”

The photo of Marines planting the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi after the Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945 is one of the most iconic images of World War II

The photo of Marines planting the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi after the Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945 is one of the most iconic images of World War II

The photo of Marines planting the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi after the Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945 is one of the most iconic images of World War II

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