Iwo was declared secure on March 14. This was clearly premature, as the
Marines suffered an additional 6,000 casualties mopping up, but by March 26, the fighting was long
over. By the 26th, exactly five weeks after D-Day on Iwo, the Japanese defence was extinguished.
The Fourth Marine Division was already gone, sent back to Maui to try to build a fighting division
out of the pieces left after Iwo, The Fifth Marines were almost gone as well. The Third was still at
work chasing down stragglers, but Seabees and Army troops would soon take up the task of
cleaning up the island and transforming it into a major airbase. There remained not a single
identified pocket of resistance. All over the island, night time found the Americans peacefully
asleep. The first warning that all was not over came at 0515 hrs, in the form of sudden small arms
fire around Motoyama Number Two.
Hundreds of Japanese burst through the sleeping camps, catching a mixed bag of Marine
shore parties, supply troops, Air Corps crewmen, AA gunners and Seabees completely by surprise.
Attacker: Japanese (145th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Mixed Brigade and other units)
Defender: American (USMC and Army) (5th Pioneer Battalion and assorted Army and Marine Units)