More than 6,500 US servicemen died in the battle at Iwo Jima, a tiny island 660 miles south of Tokyo that was deemed vital to the US war effort because Japanese fighter planes based there were intercepting American bomber planes. The invasion began on February 19, 1945, with about 70,000 Marines battling 18,000 Japanese soldiers for 36 days.
Besides those killed, about 20,000 Americans were wounded. Only about 200 Japanese soldiers were captured, with the others killed in the fighting.
This was followed by the Battle of Saipan between June and July 1945, when almost 30,000 Japanese troops were killed, with some 22,000 civilians dying – many of whom took their own lives.
Of the 71,000 US troops who landed on the beaches, more than 3,400 died with a further 13,000 wounded.
The frenzied nature of the defense convinced US commanders that an invasion of the Japanese mainland would cost many lives, so the decision was made to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6 and then a second weapon on Nagasaki, three days later.
The two atomic attacks, which shocked the world, prompted the Japanese to surrender.
This spectacular set of photos was brought back to life by emergency medical technician Jared Enos, 19, from North Kingstown in Rhode Island.