Young Navy soldiers take Iwo Jima during World War II and then cope with the fame that follows. During World War II, a Marine division is deployed to a small island, Iwo Jima, under Japanese control. With the help of the Navy, the Marines are expected to wipe out the Japanese resistance on land and take the island for America. The Navy bombs the island for days leading up to the Marine landfall, and at first, it seems like the defenses have effectively been taken out, but then the Japanese attack, killing a great deal of the invading American forces. A few days later, the Navy and Marines join forces to attack Mount Suribachi, the main mountain on the island, and after a lengthy battle, the mountain is won. After a platoon is sent up to raise a flag on the mountain, they send a second platoon with an additional flag when the Secretary of the Navy requests to receive the flag. This flag-raising results in the famous photograph. The second platoon is ambushed by Japanese gunners later, and a few members of the company are shot and killed-- one, Iggy, is dragged into a Japanese tunnel, tortured, and found days later by the Americans. After the battle is won, Rene, one of the survivors from the second platoon, is asked to identify the men in the photo, and he misidentifies one of the men, Harlon, as Hank, a sergeant who was not actually in the flag raising. One of the survivors, Ira, demands Rene to tell the powers-that-be that he is not in the photo, to replace his name with Harlon, so that Harlon may get his proper due and that he can stay and continue to fight. However, Rene tells the truth, and he, Ira, and another survivor, Doc, are sent home to be part of a tour to raise money for the war. Ira becomes an alcoholic, enraged that Hank's mother is present and not Harlon's. He is also discriminated against during the tour due to his Native American heritage. Ira vomits in front of a general one night, and he is kicked off of the tour. After the war, we see what happened to everyone: Doc buys and operates a funeral home, Rene tries to get into business but fails and is forced to be a janitor, and, after hitchhiking to see Harlon's parents in order to tell them the truth, Ira dies shortly after due to his alcohol abuse.
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Best part of story, including ending:
This is a strong war story, with some impressive war recreation, but more importantly, it deals with the politics and the PTSD that follows nicely.
Best scene in story:
After the war has ended, the three men see each other at the dedication of the memorial for the war, and it's an emotional moment.
Opinion about the main character:
Doc is used primarily as the vessel through which we witness Ira, Rene, and the others. He's brave in the face of battle, and he's hurt when a friend of his dies in his arms, so we sympathize greatly with him.