Aftermath

Of between 20,530 and 21,060 Japanese defenders entrenched on the island, from 17,845 to 18,375 died either from fighting or by ritual suicide. Only 216 were captured during the course of battle. After Iwo Jima, it was estimated there were no more than 300 Japanese left alive in the island’s warren of caves and tunnels. In fact, there were close to 3,000. The Japanese bushidocode of honor, coupled with effective propaganda which portrayed American G.I.s as ruthless animals, prevented surrender for many Japanese soldiers. Those who could not bring themselves to commit suicide hid in the caves during the day and came out at night to prowl for provisions. Some did eventually surrender and were surprised that the Americans often received them with compassion, offering water, cigarettes, alcohol, or coffee.  The last of these holdouts on the island, two of Lieutenant Toshihiko Ohno’s men, Yamakage Kufuku and Matsudo Linsoki, lasted four years without being caught and finally surrendered on 6 January 1949.

According to the official Navy Department Library website, “The 36-day (Iwo Jima) assault resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead.”  By comparison, the much larger scale 82-day Battle of Okinawa lasting from early April until mid-June 1945 (involving five U.S. Army and two Marine Corps divisions) resulted in of over 62,000 U.S. casualties, of whom over 12,000 were killed or missing. Iwo Jima was also the only U.S. Marine battle where the American casualties exceeded the Japanese,   although Japanese combat deaths numbered three times as many American deaths. Two US Marines were captured as POWs during the battle; neither of them would survive their captivity. USS Bismarck Sea was also lost, the last U.S. aircraft carrier sunk in World War II.  Because all civilians had been evacuated, there were no civilian casualties at Iwo Jima, unlike at Saipan and Okinawa.