President Donald Trump praised the heroism of U.S. service members who infiltrated the island of Iwo Jima 75 years ago on Feb. 19, 1945, which initiated a five week effort to overthrow the Japanese defenders in what became known as the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“In the long record of American heroism in combat, few episodes capture the indomitable will and the stouthearted spirit of the American warrior better than the triumphs on the island of Iwo Jima in early 1945,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday morning.
“Seventy-five years later, we pay tribute to the immeasurable sacrifice of those killed in action on Iwo Jima, and we honor the heroic efforts of all who took part in one of the most costly and significant battles in our country’s history,” Trump said.
In particular, Trump singled out the 27 service members who earned the Medal of Honor for their service during the Battle of Iwo Jima for their “conspicuous gallantry.”
Twenty-two of the Medals of Honor were awarded to Marines and five others to service members from the Navy for their actions in Iwo Jima, setting a record in U.S. history as the battle with the highest number of Medal of Honor recipients, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.
Additionally, Trump highlighted the actions of Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn who was a Marine Corps chaplain during the battle and earned three combat ribbons for his service. Gittelsohn was known for his message to the 5th Marine Division cemetery called “The Purest Democracy.”
After weeks of fighting, U.S. troops secured control of the island from the Japanese on March 26, 1945.
More than 20,000 Japanese soldiers lost their lives in the battle, in comparison to nearly 7,000 U.S. troops who died, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command. Additionally, approximately 20,000 U.S. troops suffered injuries.
“The fighting on Iwo Jima was some of the bloodiest and most costly in all of World War II, but it also gave rise to some of the greatest examples of patriotism and heroism in our nation’s history,” Trump said.
“We honor those who answered the call of duty and ensured that the forces of freedom emerged victorious in that fateful battle,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday. “As a Nation, we remain forever indebted to the Greatest Generation.”