Japanese and U.S. flags are carried March 13 during a memorial service jointly held by Japan and the United States to mark the anniversary of one of World War II's bloodiest and most symbolic battles on the remote island of Iwo Jima. (Takeshi Ogura / AP pool)
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TOKYO — Japan and the U.S. are marking the 68th anniversary one of the most iconic battles of World War II on the tiny island of Iwo Jima.
Representatives of the Japanese soldiers who died, government officials and a handful of U.S. veterans gathered Wednesday on the island to remember the battle that began Feb. 19, 1945, and officially ended when the volcanic crag was declared secure by the U.S. on March 26, 1945.
The fighting claimed 6,821 American and 21,570 Japanese lives. About 12,000 Japanese and 218 Americans are still classified as missing in action.
The island, 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) south of Tokyo, is now uninhabited except for a small Japanese military outpost. It is now known in Japan as Ioto.