I always felt it was a horrible waste of Japanese lives (yes, I understand they were doing all they could to delay an invasion of the homeland, but…), but the thought just occurred to me: did we really need to invade Iwo Jima?
The ostensible justification has always been that US possession of the airstrtips on Iwo allowed our damaged bombers to make emergency landings (when they otherwise likely would have crashed into the sea). Histories say that this was justified even before the island was fully under US control–a B-29 made an emergency landing on Iwo during the battle itself!
But capturing Iwo cost us almost 7,000 lives, and another 19,000 wounded. How many bombers actually landed on Iwo, and how many lives did our possession of the island save?