By Al Hemingway Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith was 62 years of age. At a time in life when most men contemplate retirement, he was a very busy individual. He was the top Marine in the Pacific and, despite his grandfatherly appearance, he had a tremendous temper. This earned him the nickname of “Howlin’ Mad.” After 40 years as a Marine, this would be Smith’s last assignment, but it would not be easy. In October 1944, Smith received a message from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, informing him of the target for the next invasion of a Japanese-held Pacific island: Iwo Jima. It was given the code name Operation Detachment, but for those that fought there, it was simply called Iwo. Smith ordered Maj. Gen. Harry Schmidt, commanding general of the Fifth Marine Amphibious Corps (VAC), to begin planning for the assault. Schmidt would use his 4th and 5th Marine-divisions which were training in Hawaii, in the initial attack. The 4th Division was led by Maj. Gen. Clifton B. Cates and the 5th by Maj. Gen. Keller E. Rockey. The 3rd Marine Division, headed by Maj. Gen. Graves B. Erskine, was involved in mopping-up operations on Guam and was corps reserve. Iwo Jima needed to be seized if the Allies were to be victorious against the Japanese empire. That summer, General henry A. “Hap” Arnold of the Army Air Corps quickly grasped its importance. The new B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers could carry twice the bomb load of the older B-1


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