On February 19, 1945, a small island in the Pacific Ocean was recorded in history and the tides of World War II were altered when the United States Marines launched an amphibious invasion in Iwo Jima, Japan, starting one of the main battles of the war.
The island, then a stronghold of Japanese forces, played an important role in facilitating air travel above the vast Pacific Ocean and represented a stepping stone for allied fighters. Taking the island would open the door for possible attacks on mainland Japan.
More than 80,000 marines have been tasked with taking control of the island, according to the National Marine Corps Museum.
The battle culminated on February 23, 1945, when Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal took one of the most iconic photos in American history, while Marines raised a flag atop Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi.
But the battle continued for 36 days in total, and the death toll was immense.
More than 6,000 US service members died, making it one of the bloodiest encounters in U.S. Marine history, according to the National Museum of World War II. Of an estimated 20,000 Japanese soldiers, only about 200 of them survived the battle, according to the museum.
Rosenthal's iconic image lives on 75 years later, but it is far from the only one. Here are 10 stunning photos from the iconic battle.
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Contribution: Emily Johnson, USA TODAY.
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