Welcome to Hell | 45
edge and had failed. In previous island campaigns in the South Pacic, theMarines had perfected amphibious tactics and despite enormous casualties
had succeeded in taking one island after another in a series of campaignsthat brought them ever closer to Japan.Kuribayashi was determined not to squander his limited resources de-fending the beaches with suicidal counterattacks. He planned to hold outfrom heavily fortied static defensive positions for as long as he could. Tothis end he constructed underground bunkers connected by a network of tunnels throughout the island. Designed by some of Japan’s best miningengineers, these tunnels were craftily concealed and capable of withstand-ing all but a direct hit from a heavy caliber shell. He distributed his men,ammunition, food, and water so that no movement above ground wouldbe necessary once the attack began.
Heavily fortied underground defensive positions covered both the east
and west landing beaches and the terraces inland by direct re. Similarly
fortied positions dug into the slopes of Mount Suribachi had a command-
ing view of the beaches all the way to the East Boat Basin just northeast of
beach Blue 2. These positions consisted of artillery pieces and large mortars
that could enlade the landing craft approach lanes offshore, the entireeastern beach, and the terraces inland all the way to the two airelds.The ground inland from the beaches between the airelds and north of the beaches was heavily fortied and protected by large mineelds. These
commanding positions provided direct observation of the beaches and
preregistered artillery, mortar, and rocket re over the entire beachhead.Direct re missions between the beaches and the airelds would continuefrom these positions until individually captured or destroyed. There wasno part of the landing beaches, the steeply sloped terraces, and the atground between the airelds that was not covered. Additionally, there wasno natural cover to protect the advancing Marines. In the face of horricre, they would have to advance over a at lunar landscape of volcanicash and rock.
While he stood on the deck, leaning against the rail, Jim listened asreports started coming in over the public address system. The initial waveshad landed on the beaches unopposed. Within a short time several thou-sand Marines were safely ashore. It was eerily quiet. Jim took heart at thisnews. Maybe this was not going to be so tough after all. He did not know ityet, but the Japanese were so well dug in that the shells had not degradedthe defensive positions as hoped.