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Major General Fred Haynes was a young captain when Combat Team 28, one of the greatest units fielded in the history of the U.S. Marines, landed on the black sands of Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. The unit, 4,500 men strong, plunged immediately into ferocious combat, and by the time the battled ended, 70 percent of the men in the team’s three assault battalions were killed or seriously wounded. The stories told here, many for the first time, will seem too cruel, too heartbreaking to be believed. As one veteran remarked, “Each day we learned a new way to die.”
Today, Major Haynes is the last surviving officer in CT 28 who was intimately involved in planning and coordinating all phases of the team’s fight on Iwo Jima. In this astonishing narrative, Haynes and James A. Warren recapture in riveting detail what the Marines experienced, drawing on a wealth of previously untapped documents, personal narratives, letters, and interviews with survivors to offer fresh interpretations of the fight for Suribachi, the iconic flag-raising photograph, and the nature of the campaign as a whole.
“General Haynes and James Warren have written a brilliant firsthand account of the legendary battle that defined the US Marine Corps. As a student of the battle who has walked the black sand beaches of Iwo many times, I was fascinated by the detail and riveting description of every action. This is a must read for all those who want a grunt's eye view of fierce combat in an epic battle.”—General Anthony C. Zinni USMC
"This is the most comprehensive documentary of the battle for Iwo Jima. History has yet to understand the immense implications this epic struggle had for the strategic air campaign that finally broke the will of Japan's leadership. The vivid personal accounts of Fred Haynes and others make it a living history that is both painful to read and inspiring to contemplate."—Jack Lambert, author The Pineapple Air Force: Pearl Harbor to Tokyo
“In 1945 my father John Bradley and other members of Combat Team 28 raised a flag on Iwo Jima. General Fred Haynes is the highest-ranking surviving officer from that heroic unit. In 1945 General Haynes helped America place a flag atop Mt. Suribachi. Now with The Lions of Iwo Jima, he helps America understand how it was done.”—James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys
“The Lions of Iwo Jima captures in stark detail the incredible trial by fire of Combat Team 28 in the Marine Corps’ most challenging battle of the Pacific War. It shows what Americans can do when the chips are really down.”—Dan Rather
“The Lions of Iwo Jima tells the full story of the unit that raised the flags on Mount Suribachi in powerful, brooding detail. Certainly one of the best books ever written about Iwo Jima—and about the experience of war at ground level.”—Clint Eastwood, director of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima
“This riveting and memorable account of the horrors and heroics of Iwo Jima is much more than another war story. It is about courage, grief, sacrifice and, most of all, about honor.”—Tom Brokaw, NBC News
“The Lions of Iwo Jima is a powerful, gut-wrenching account of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. A tale of courage, heartbreak and the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity, this outstanding book is also a reminder that we must never forget that the price of war is paid for by the sacrifices of gallant warriors like those of Combat Team 28.”—Carlo D'Este, author of Patton: A Genius For War and Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life
"Military historian Warren intermixes his narrative of the origins and conduct of the fighting with the reminiscences of veteran Haynes, who survived five weeks of brutal fighting on the Japanese island . . . Activated a year earlier, Combat Team 28 included only 40 percent combat veterans, but eight months of intense training under experienced senior officers (all given admiring mini-biographies) produced a superbly disciplined organization that never lost its elan in the face of massive casualties. Despite the Marines' superb training and brave leadership, Iwo Jima was an exercise in mutual slaughter, a mind-numbing series of brutal small-unit actions characterized by courage, endurance and carnage on both sides that proceeded relentlessly until the last Japanese died. [The authors] include anecdotes, colorful characters and philosophical musings."—Kirkus Reviews
"In this intense, moving account, the authors bring the reality of the fighting on Iwo Jima to readers, who are likely to be shocked and even numbed by the nonstop descriptions of carnage. Warren is a journalist and author specializing in military affairs; Haynes is a member of the diminishing group of Iwo Jima survivors, and he has collected for decades letters, diaries, and previously unpublished memoirs, written by his comrades, which are put to superb use here. The account focuses on the experience of Combat Team 28, a unit of 4,500 marines; their best-known accomplishment was the raising of the flag atop Mount Suribachi. However, that event, immortalized by the classic photograph, occurred only four days into the monthlong battle. Ahead lay a cauldron of merciless slaughter, with marines inching forward against Japanese troops entrenched in a series of interlocking caves and tunnels. The authors capture the horror of their advance as close-range combat in confined areas became the norm. This is a disturbing, sometimes sickening chronicle, but the harsh face of war in the Pacific theater has rarely been portrayed so effectively."—Jay Freeman, Booklist
Major General Fred Haynes USMC (Ret.) was the top operations officer of Marine forces in 1967 during the Vietnam War. A contributor to The Marine Corps Gazette, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is chairman emeritus of the American Turkish Council. He lives in New York City.
James A. Warren is the author of the highly acclaimed American Spartans and Portrait of a Tragedy: America and the Vietnam War.