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Marines stormed Iwo Jima 75 years ago today. Here are the battle’s most iconic…

by Ace Damon
Marines stormed Iwo Jima 75 years ago today. Here are the battle's most iconic...

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.

US 4th Division Marines attack on land at the start of the Iwo Jima invasion, while running to hide in shell holes and bomb craters made by pre-invasion bombing on February 25, 1945, during World War II Worldwide. Warships abroad give heavy support to weapons. In the center, at the bottom, are the wreckage of a Japanese ship.During the invasion of Iwo Jima in February 1945, US troops sighted a Japanese machine gun nest in front of them. One of the men is establishing his location on the map, so that they can forward the information to artillery or mortar units to eliminate those positions.A Navy demolition man hugs the ground to escape flying debris after firing a high explosive charge to blow up a Japanese pillbox in Iwo Jima, Japan, on March 2, 1945. After his capture, many of these positions had to be destroyed so that the enemy returns to the shelters and opens fire on the flanks of the Navy.A US marine driving an ambulance jeep struggles on Iwo Jima Beach during the American advance into the strategic stronghold of Japanese Volcano Island on February 26, 1945, in World War II.US 5th Division Marines pose with captured Japanese battle flags at Iwo Jima on March 2, 1945.A US Navy communicator, dug in a shallow trench, calling for artillery support to silence enemy mortars in Iwo Jima, Japan, during World War II in March 1945.In the peaceful theater of World War II, US Marines hit the beach and attack a dune at Iwo Jima, in the Volcano Islands, on February 19, 1945, the start of one of the deadliest battles of the war against Japan.US Marines kneel in prayer before receiving communion during a break in the fight for the Motoyam airstrip # 1 on Iwo Jima, Japan's volcano island, on March 1, 1945, in World War II.Navy Secretary James Forrestal, on the left, and Lt. Gen. Holland Smith, commander of the Marines in the Pacific, are on February 23, 1945, on the track of a ship near Iwo Jima, Japan, with Mt. Suribachi in the background, and watch bitter fights on the island.

You can follow USA TODAY's Jay Cannon on Twitter: @JayTCannon

Contribution: Emily Johnson, USA TODAY.

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Marines stormed Iwo Jima 75 years ago today. Here are the battle's most iconic...

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