Major General Holland Smith called the securing of Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, "the toughest fighting the Marines ran across in 158 years." On February 19th, 1945, after 74 days of intensive bombing from U.S. air and sea forces, Marines landed on the beaches of the heavily-protected island. More than 20,000 experienced Japanese troops were determined to fight to the bitter end. American troops prevailed; almost 19,000 Japanese died. American fatalities exceeded 6,500 and over 26,000 were wounded. This stunning ingot depicts the five Marines and the Navy medical corpsman who raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the flag raising, taken by Associated Press combat cameraman Joe Rosenthal, became the most famous photograph of World War II. In turn, it inspired what was for years the biggest-selling stamp in the history of the U.S. Post Office. Over 137 million sold.
The power of this historic event springs to life in this inspiring stamp ingot. The stamp was issued in 1945. The U.S. Post Office initially rejected the idea of a stamp commemorating the Flag Raising at Iwo Jima because of its mandate that no living person(s) can appear on a U.S. stamp. Public outcry was so great that Congress pushed for the stamp. On the day of issue, in sweltering temperatures, people stood patiently in lines that stretched for blocks.