Feb. 17, 1945, had dawned clear and bright off Iwo Jima. At 10:45 that morning, Lieutenant (junior grade) Rufus G. Herring, aboard LCI(G)-449, peered through binoculars at the tiny island, still some distance away.
The Japanese defending Iwo Jima on D-day displayed superb tactical discipline. As Lieutenant Colonel Justus M. ‘Jumpin’ Joe’ Chambers led his 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, across the first terrace on the right flank of the landing beaches, he encountered interlocking bands of automatic-weapons fire unlike anything he had faced in Tulagi or Saipan. ‘You could’ve held up a cigarette and lit it on the stuff going by,’ he recalled. ‘I knew immediately we were in for one hell of a time.’