THE HEART OF HELL:The Untold Story of Courage and Sacrifice in the Shadow of Iwo Jima

THE HEART OF HELL                           MITCH WEISS

The Battle of Iwo Jima, a major event in the Pacific Theater of World War II—and one of the bloodiest in United States history—began on February 19, 1945. But what happened two days earlier has largely been a footnote, until now...
On February 17, Landing Craft Infantry 449 was among a dozen gunboats helping to prepare the area for their invasion two days later. U.S. military leaders thought they had weakened Japanese forces in the area so they were not expecting any action…
From the towering slopes of Mount Suribachi, Japanese forces opened fire, forcing the U.S. commanders to recalculate battlefield plans. They shelled and bombed the newly discovered enemy positions. It was a move that saved countless lives two days later, when tens of thousands of Marines stormed the beach.
The Heart of Hell is the untold story of the crew of Landing Craft Infantry 449. Based on 130 exclusive interviews with sailors who survived the battle, the families of the men killed in the fight, and more than 1,500 letters the sailors mailed to loved ones during their long months at sea, this is a story of duty, brotherhood, love, and courage.

This is a story about LCI 449 and their action that took place two days before the actual invasion of Iwo Jima. I had read about UDT’S going to the island before and drawing a map of the beach and getting rid of any mines that were in the way for the landing crafts. No one spoke of these boats or the men on these boats that took them close and then would wait for them to come back. After days of bombing, from the air, and from the ships guns. The powers to be figured there would be little to no enemy fire. As the boats came closer to the spot to drop of the Under Water Demolition Team, (now called Seals) the Japanese thought that the invasion was starting and some of the hidden areas opened up with fire on the six boats that were first sent in. The 449 took and another boat each took direct hits almost immediately and for the 449 the first hit was near their ammo locker, but also took out a 40mm gun and a 20mm gun. A second hit was just as bad but the third took out all of the officers but one and took away all of their fighting power. With no guns, and now the rockets not working, Bedell the last officer but the lowest rank took charge. As he goes through the steps to get the ship moving again, you also get a look back at the friendships he made along the way and the memories of each one. Some of these men had been together on this boat for years together almost from Guadalcanal to today. His best friend and Lt. Bryon Yarbrough, who in September of 44 started writing a girl he never met a Betty Jones, by December of 44 he knows he wants to marry her. In March of 45 Betty starts getting her letters returned and knowing something must be wrong it is another month before his parents write her with the news of his death. She never marries and a niece says after she passed away they found all of the letters tied with a ribbon together in a trunk. Another man just found out he was a father only to be killed. It is these type of stories that made this book more interesting than just a history book. With a crew of 75 the 449 had 20 killed 21 wounded. That day Group eight had 43 killed, 152 wounded, and the 449 took it the hardest. This was still two days before the actual invasion. The spotters saw where some of the guns were and were able to take those out, or the totals for the day of the invasion would have been higher. Iwo Jima the battle lasted for 36 days, and was the only battle in the Pacific that claimed more American lives 26,000 killed and wounded. Out of 22,000 Japanese soldiers only 216 would survive. This was a fantastic book with a lot of research and you got to know each man before the battle. I got this book from netgalley. I gave this book 5 stars. Follow us at:

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