Iwo Jima was the United States Marine Corps' toughest ever battle and a turning point in the Pacific War. In February 1945, three Marine Divisions stormed the island's shores in what was supposed to be a ten-day battle, but they had reckoned without General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, the enemy commander. 'Do not plan for my return,' wrote Kuribayashi in one of his many letters to his wife, Yoshii. He knew that he and his garrison could not defeat the Marines, but he was determined to exact a fearful toll in American casualties. In the 36-day battle for Iwo Jima, which eclipsed all that had gone before, the Marines lost nearly 6,000 men and the Japanese garrison was virtually wiped out.