SPOTLIGHT ON MARINE HEROES #4



3rd Bn, 25th Marines–
Casualties on Iwo Jima

 


(above) Iwo Jima beach head, D-Day–
19 February 1945 USMC Photo

The 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines was commanded by LtCol Justice "Jumpin' Joe" Chambers, USMCR. He later received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Iwo Jima. Part of the 4th Marine Division, 3/25 had one of the toughest missions on D-Day, 19 February 1945. It landed on the Beach Blue 1, the far right flank for the Vth Amphibious Corps.

916 Marines were assigned to 3/25 on 19 February 1945. By the time Iwo Jima was declared secure on 16 March 1945, over 750 of them were dead, missing or wounded. On D-Day, every one of the seven officers in Company K was either killed or wounded. The battalion staff was equally decimated. The executive officer of 3/25, LtCol James Taul was sent to take command of another battalion whose commander and XO had been killed.

On D+3 LtCol Chambers was struck in the chest by a Japanese bullet. He was evacuated and recovered from his wound after prolonged hospitalization. The CO of Company L, Captain James Headley, USMCR, took command of the battalion and led it for the rest of the campaign. He later received his second Navy Cross for his heroism on the island.

Of his Marines' conduct, Captain Headley later said, "[There were] so many acts of courage and bravery that it's almost impossible to recall them all. They died so fast that the whole business of heroes and death is a little mixed up in my mind. You'd see a man do something almost unbelieveable and a minute later you'd see him die. It's pretty hard to pick out any outstanding man or men."

For the remainder of the campaign, every staff officer performed multiple duties. For example, the commanding officer of H&S 3/25, Captain James Antink, became the battalion XO and also acted as the operations officer. At every level in the battalion, Marines, including privates, served in positions of responsibility far above their ranks.

Among the casualties was of 3/25 was Pvt, Delbert Maupin, USMCR, of Hannibal, Missouri. On 19 February 1945 he threw himself in front of a Japanese hand grenade to save his squad leader. Pvt Maupin later was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross for his selfless act of heroism.

Two other casualties were Pfc Lawrence Bigler of Woodsfield, Ohio and his friend Pvt Johnnie Turnage of La Grange, North Carolina. Their acts of bravery occurred at Grenade Ridge on 11 March 1945. Pfc Bigler was mortally wounded during an assault, but continued to deliver a high volume of fire with his Browning Automatic Rifle until he died. Pvt Turnage picked up the BAR from his dead buddy and continued to fire the weapon until he, too, was killed. Both Marines later received posthumous Silver Stars for their gallantry in action.

The tables below illustrate the price 3/25 paid for its role in the battle for Iwo Jima. 71% of the 1,176 Marines who served in the battalion became casualties on the island. This casualty rate has seldom been attained in modern warfare. But on Iwo Jima, 24 Marine infantry battalions engaged in combat and all suffered casualty rates similar to 3/25's. On 16 March 1945 when it was withdrawn from combat, 3/25 was at 50% of its authorized strength of 916 Marines.

Table 1. Unit strength accounting for 3/25, Feb-Mar 1945
 
Officer
Enlisted
Total
Strength 19 Feb 45
37
879
916
Replacements joined
11
249
260
Total
48
1128
1176
Transferred
0
0
0
Remainder (1)
48
1128
1176
Total casualties (2)
39
798
837
Remainder
9
330
339
Wounded, not evacuated
5
56
62
Total (3)
14
386
400
Casualties returned to duty only once
2
59
61
Total
16
445
461
Casualties returned to duty twice
0
3
3
Total (4)
16
448
464
Strength 16 Mar 45
15
446
461

NOTES ON THIS TABLE

(1) This is the total of all Marines who served in 3/25, both those who landed on 19 Feb 45, and all replacements who joined the battalion on Iwo Jima.

(2) Casualties include those killed, wounded, missing, and evacuated for sickness.

(3) This is the number of Marines who were either not wounded, or were wounded and not evacuated.

(4) This is the number of Marines who were either not wounded, or whose wounds were minor enough for them to return to duty.


Table 2. Casualties for 3/25, Iwo Jima, Feb-Mar 45
 
Officer
Enlisted
Total
Killed
10
190
200
Wounded
(evacuated)
23
493
516
Sick
(evacuated)
1
52
53
Wounded
(not evacuated)
5
56
61
Missing
0
7
7
Total
39
798
837

SOURCES USED FOR THIS PAGE:
Marine Heroes, Jane Blakeney
The Fourth Marine Division in World War II, Carl W. Proehl
"Battalion on Iwo" by Capt. Arthur Hill, USMC, Marine Corps Gazette Novemner 1945
casualty statistics for 3/25 courtesy of the National Archives

BACK

SPOTLIGHT ON IWO JIMA INDEX PAGE

 

 

 

This site is owned & maintained by Mark Flowers, copyright 2004, all rights reserved.