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(Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
(Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Dignitaries pose for photos after a Battle of Iwo Jima 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Dignitaries pose for photos after a Battle of Iwo Jima 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley talks with World War II veteran Constantine Rizopoulos before an Iwo Jima 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley talks with World War II veteran Constantine Rizopoulos before an Iwo Jima 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Iwo Jima veteran Juliam McBee Shobe is remembered by his great-granddaughter, Alonna, during a 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Iwo Jima veteran Juliam McBee Shobe is remembered by his great-granddaughter, Alonna, during a 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Amy McCabe plays taps during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Amy McCabe plays taps during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Stars and Stripes)
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley speaks at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley speaks at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Vietnam Veterans Memorial founder Jan Scruggs speaks at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial founder Jan Scruggs speaks at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley salutes during a Battle of Iwo Jima 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley salutes during a Battle of Iwo Jima 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
World War II veteran Harry Miller salutes during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
World War II veteran Harry Miller salutes during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Iwo Jima battle veteran Ira Rigger and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley salute during the playing of the national anthem at a 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Iwo Jima battle veteran Ira Rigger and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley salute during the playing of the national anthem at a 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard, at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Armed Forces Color Guard, at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Iwo Jima battle veteran Ira Rigger and his wife, Yong, before a 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Iwo Jima battle veteran Ira Rigger and his wife, Yong, before a 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Friends of the National World War II Memorial Chairman Josiah Bunting III, Iwo Jima battle veteran Ira Rigger and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley salute during a wreath laying at a 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Friends of the National World War II Memorial Chairman Josiah Bunting III, Iwo Jima battle veteran Ira Rigger and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley salute during a wreath laying at a 75th anniversary ceremony, Feb. 19, 2020 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON — The nation's top military officer paid tribute Wednesday to thousands of U.S. Marines and Navy corpsmen who took part in what he called "the bloodiest campaign in American history, per square mile," the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.

During the Pacific battle, which began on Feb. 19, 1945 and lasted through March, nearly 7,000 U.S. service members died and over 19,000 were wounded. Among those landing on the island was Alexander Milley, father of current Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

"My father and those fellow Marines and (Navy) corpsmen who were hitting the beach were told there were no Japanese left alive," Gen. Milley recounted during Wednesday's ceremony at the National World War II Memorial. "They hit the beach and got in about 800 meters or so, and they hit a trigger line. Then all hell broke loose.

"They began slugging it out, inch by inch, yard by yard, for the next 36 days."

He called the Iwo Jima campaign "an unbelievable battle in an entire war of unbelievable battles."

Milley said the goal of everyone who wears a uniform is to "never again" allow a great-power war like the two world wars, in which 150 million people perished between 1914 and 1945.

"Let us resolve that we're not going to ever have another great-power war, because the slaughter that it involves is beyond the imagination, beyond the pale," he said.

news@stripes.com

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