Left to right are Medals of Honor for the US Army; the US Navy / Marine Corps / US Coast Guard; the US Air Force. Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Lt. General Holland (“Howlin’ Mad”) Smith was in charge of Expeditionary Troops at Iwo Jima. He totally believed in the ability of his Marines to successfully complete the most difficult missions.

His men exceeded their commander’s expectations. More Marines (twenty-two) were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry at Iwo than for any other World War II battle. (A total of eighty-one Marines were thus decorated for the entire war.)

Five sailors (four Navy corpsmen and one Navy landing craft commander) were also awarded the nation’s highest honor for valor at Iwo Jima. Half of all the Iwo Jima medals were given posthumously.

Admiral Chester Nimitz said that "among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue." Whenever the surviving flag raisers were treated as heroes, however, they downplayed the attention. The real heroes, they always insisted, were those who had died on the island.

The following twenty-seven men were recognized by their country for conspicuous gallantry. (Click on the dates to learn their acts of heroism.) An asterisk denotes those who died in battle:

While men continued to fight and die on the island, Joe Rosenthal’s flag-raising picture had been developed. Recognizing the potential power of that photograph to rally Americans, military authorities sent it to the President.

Only weeks from death himself, FDR summoned the surviving flag raisers to Washington. He had a different job for them to do.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Jul 16, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"IWO JIMA MEDALS OF HONOR" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 2006. May 30, 2020.
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