After forty-nine long days at sea and just four days after Valentine’s Day seventy-five years ago, thousands of young Marines were sent to storm the barren, black beaches of Iwo Jima. The small island was mostly flat other than a large, dormant volcano located on the southern end. Its position halfway between Japan and the American airfields in the Mariana Islands made it a strategic location to both Japan and the U.S. late in World War II. The U.S. wanted it to acquire a secure airbase for their fighter planes and bombers to land and take off when attacking Japan. Japan realized the threat of the Americans taking the island and wanted to prevent them from encroaching too close to their homeland.