Island History for Friday, September 2, 2011

On Jan. 17, 1945, Navy Lt. Cdr. Cedric Baldwin (1901-1945), manager of Kaua‘i’s McBryde Sugar Co. Ltd. from January, 1938 to November, 1942, was killed in action while directing landing operations during the battle of Iwo Jima.

Baldwin was born on Maui, a fourth generation descendant of American Protestant missionary Dwight Baldwin, and was educated at the University of California, Berkeley.

He was survived by his wife, Jessie, and three children.

The Battle of Iwo Jima in which Baldwin was killed was one of the most fiercely fought battles of WWII. Japanese soldiers and attacking United States Marines supported by American sailors fought each other savagely for 35 days ( Feb. 19 – March 26, 1945) on an eight sq. mi. island. When the battle ended, 6,812 Americans were killed or missing, two were captured and killed and 19,217 were wounded. 21,844 Japanese were killed or committed suicide; only 216 were captured.

Iwo Jima was invaded to destroy its air base and to provide a landing and refueling site for American bombers and a staging area for the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland. Another secret reason for taking Iwo Jima was that it was designated as an emergency landing point for B-29 bombers that would drop atomic bombs on Japan.

After Iwo Jima’s capture, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN noted: “The battle of Iwo Jima has been won. Among the Americans who served on Iwo, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

Twenty-two marines and five sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on Iwo Jima, 13 of them posthumously.

American photographer Joe Rosenthal’s historic picture of the raising of the American flag atop Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi by five Marines and one Navy corpsman is possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time.

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