25th Marines on Blue Beach

25th Regiment, 4th Marine Division takes cover on Blue Beach from withering fire twenty minutes into the landing. LSM-206 is in the background delivering tanks. 4th Marine Division Major General Clifton B. Cates figured that the 25th Marines would have the hardest objective to take on D-day. Said Cates, "If I knew the name of the man on the extreme right of the right-hand squad I'd recommend him for a medal before we go in." No assault units found it easy going to move inland, but the 25th Marines almost immediately ran into a buzz-saw. Cates had been right in his appraisal, saying, "That right flank was a bitch if there ever was one." Lieutenant Colonel Hollis W. Mustain's 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, managed to scratch forward 300 yards under heavy fire in the first half hour, but Lieutenant Colonel Chambers' 3d Battalion, 25th Marines, took the heaviest beating of the day on the extreme right trying to scale the cliffs leading to the Rock Quarry. Chambers landed 15 minutes after H-hour. "Crossing that second terrace," he recalled, "the fire from automatic weapons was coming from all over. You could've held up a cigarette and lit it on the stuff going by. I knew immediately we were in for one hell of a time." While the assault forces tried to overcome the infantry weapons of the local defenders, they were naturally blind to an almost imperceptible stirring taking place among the rocks and crevices of the interior highlands. With grim anticipation, Imperial Japanese Army General Tadamichi Kuribayashi's gunners began unmasking the big guns - the heavy artillery, giant mortars, rockets, and anti-tank weapons held under tightest discipline for this precise moment. Kuribayashi had patiently waited until the beaches were clogged with troops and material. Gun crews knew the range and deflection to each landing beach by heart; all weapons had been preregistered on these targets long ago. At Kuribayashi's signal, these hundreds of weapons began to open fire shortly after 1000. Late in the afternoon, Lieutenant Michael F. Keleher, USNR, the battalion surgeon, was ordered ashore to take over the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines aid station from its gravely wounded surgeon. Keleher, a veteran of three previous assault landings, was appalled by the carnage on Blue Beach as he approached: "Such a sight on that beach! Wrecked boats, bogged-down jeeps, tractors and tanks; burning vehicles; casualties scattered all over."
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
United States Marine Corps
Date Photographed: 
Monday, February 19, 1945
Iwo Jima