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Sands of Iwo Jima is a 1949 war film starring John Wayne that follows a group of United States Marines from training to the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

U.S. Marine Corps

The 20th Century gave us the ability to capture events on film and to visually tell stories, both real (documentaries) and fictional. WWII was the biggest drama of that century and produced a wealth of films.

Every picture tells a story and every page has a theme. This page is focused on the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific War.


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[1944]

With the Marines at Tarawa

With the Marines at Tarawa is a 1944 short [0:20] war documentary film directed by Louis Hayward. It used authentic footage taken at the Battle of Tarawa to tell the story of the American servicemen from the time they get the news that they are to participate in the invasion to the final taking of the island and raising of the Stars and Stripes.

The film is in full color and uses no actors, making it a valuable historical document. The documentary showed more gruesome scenes of battle than other war films to date. Marine Staff Sergeant Norman T. Hatch, armed with a .45 caliber pistol and a Bell & Howell hand-cranked Eyemo camera, captured 35 mm film footage as near as 15-yards away from the enemy during combat. According to the documentary,
The War, President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself gave approval for showing the film, against the wishes of many advisors.

Since the pictures were far too graphic to meet the standards of Hollywood producers and distributors, only the President could grant permission for its release to the general public. President Roosevelt consulted the only man who was present at the Battle of Tarawa that he personally knew and trusted, Time-Life photographer Robert Sherrod. Quoting Sherrod,
"I tell the President the truth. Our soldiers on the front want people back home to know that they don't knock the hell out of them every day of every battle. They want people to understand that war is a horrible, nasty business, and to say otherwise is to do a disservice to those who died." Based on Sherrod's prompting, FDR agreed to release the film, uncensored. It was release on March 20, 1944.

The film won the 1944 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. The Oscar was presented to the US Marine Corps, and today a replica Oscar is displayed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Due to the shortages of metals needed during the war effort, the Academy presented the Marine Corps with a plaster statue in the shape of a tablet. It is also housed at the same museum but is not on display.

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With the Marines at Tarawa

[20:02]

With the Marines at Tarawa is a 1944 short war documentary film directed by Louis Hayward. It used authentic footage taken at the Battle of Tarawa to tell the story of the American servicemen from the time they get the news that they are to participate in the invasion to the final taking of the island and raising of the Stars and Stripes.

The film is in full color and uses no actors, making it a valuable historical document. The documentary showed more gruesome scenes of battle than other war films to date.

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Roll Call: Iwo Jima

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Iwo Jima: sixty years [2005] after the most heroic battle in American history. R. Lee Emery takes his “Roll Call” TV series on a special visit to this Japanese island with a contingent of WWII vets. The trip was conducted by Military Historical Tours.

This is one of the best Roll Calls that Gunny ever did. You visit the locations and then see them as filmed during the invasion. Gunny explains the history as he stands on the beaches or on top of Mt. Suribachi. Then you meet the vets who went on this trip and hear their stories. Two brothers remember a grandfather who died on Iwo Jima and was buried at sea, a granddad that they had never met. It is very moving.

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Mail Call with R. Lee Emery: Iwo Jima Special

[44:53]

Iwo Jima: sixty years [2005] after the most heroic battle in American history. R. Lee Emery takes his “Roll Call” TV series on a special visit to this Japanese island with a contingent of WWII vets. The trip was conducted by Military Historical Tours.

This is one of the best Roll Calls that Gunny ever did. You visit the locations and then see them as filmed during the invasion. Gunny explains the history as he stands on the beaches or on top of Mt. Suribachi. Then you meet the vets who went on this trip and hear their stories. Two brothers remember a grandfather who died on Iwo Jima and was buried at sea, a granddad that they had never met. It is very moving.

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