Iwo Jima holds a special place in Marine Corps history and it was one of the fiercest battles of World War II. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is an historic photograph taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal. It depicts five United States Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the American Flag atop Mount Suribachi only a few days into the Battle. Capturing the island and its 3 airfields was vital to providing the staging area for attacks on the Japanese main islands. Iwo Jima was also the only battle by the U.S. Marine Corps in which the overall American casualties (killed and wounded) exceeded those of the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths were three times those of the Americans throughout the battle. The 26,000 American casualties were one third of all Marine Corps casualties in the entire war. Of the 22,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken alive. More than twice as many Marines died in 36 days of combat on Iwo Jima than had been killed in all of World War I. In all, over 800 Americans gave their lives for every square mile of Iwo Jima’s black volcanic sand.