|Died||25 Mar 1945|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Tadamichi Kuribayashi was born in Nagano prefecture, Japan to a samurai; in fact, he was the fifth generation of the Kuribayashi family that served six emperors as samurai. Canadian-educated, he was assigned to be a deputy military attaché in Washington DC starting in 1928, traveling extensively. When the Pacific War was able to begin, he was a known opponent of provoking United States into war; "[t]he United States is the last country in the world Japan should fight", he wrote his wife once. He was largely ignored by the decision makers.
In May 1944, the tall and husky Japanese general (he was five feet nine inches, above average for Japanese men at the time) was handpicked by Emperor Showa and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo to defend the island of Iwo Jima. Veteran of thirty years with recent field experience in Manchuria and China, he was given the honor to personally meet Emperor Showa in Jun 1944 on the night before he flew to Iwo Jima. The meeting was an honor rare even for samurai, and he was told by Emperor Showa that the American "barbarians" must be stopped.
Kuribayashi did not share the optimism some of his peers had, but he performed his duties. He closely studied the island's terrain and decided that he would not fight on the island. He was going to fight from inside the island. Under his instructions, 21,000 men were hidden in 13,000 yards of tunnels. On Mount Suribachi alone there were 1,000 cave entrances and pill boxes. He gave the following orders to his men.
On 22 mar, Kuribayashi radioed "[w]e are still fighting.... The strength under my command is now about four hundred. Tanks are attacking us. The enemy suggested we surrender through loudspeaker, but our officers and men just laughed and paid no attention." On the next day, he sent Chichi Jima this final message, to be relayed on to Tokyo: "All officers of Chichi Jima, goodbye from Iwo". He reportedly committed ritual suicide, but his body was never found.
"Of all our adversaries in the Pacific, Kuribayashi was the most redoubtable", said United States Marine Corps General Holland Smith.
Sources: Flags of Our Fathers, Wikipedia.
Tadamichi Kuribayashi Timeline
|1 Jan 1891||Tadamichi Kuribayashi was born.|
|25 Mar 1945||Tadamichi Kuribayashi passed away on Iwo Jima, Japan. He reportedly committed ritual suicide, but his body was never found.|
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Winston Churchill, 1935