Fred Reidenbach, a 97-year-old veteran of Iwo Jima, meets with young Marines at the USO center at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of the first day of the five-week battle that is one of the bloodiest and proudest times in Marine Corps history. (The News & Observer courtesy photo / Richard Stradling)

Seventy-five years ago Wednesday, Fred Reidenbach was aboard a Navy patrol craft loaded with radio gear, helping to coordinate the landing at Iwo Jima, a volcanic island the U.S. military hoped to use as a staging area for the eventual invasion of Japan.

Reidenbach was a 22-year-old sergeant with the 4th Marine Division from Rochester, New York, and recalls that it was cold that day. The Marines were issued sweaters, heavy socks and 2.5 ounces of brandy to steel them for the task ahead: dislodging 21,000 Japanese soldiers from heavily fortified bunkers and tunnels. Reidenbach wasn't a drinker but didn't have trouble finding someone to take his brandy.

"I passed it on to somebody who liked it better than me," he said.

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95-year-old Eddie Vincek is photographed at his home in Chesapeake, Va., on Monday, February 17, 2020. (The Virginian-Pilot/Kristen Zeis via Tribune News Service)

Eddie Vincek is a survivor. He's made it to 95. Still stands tall, with remarkably few ailments. Still lives with his wife in their longtime house in rural Chesapeake, where he putters around the flower beds of their 4-acre yard.

Seventy-five years ago, Vincek beat some other odds — surviving the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the last and bloodiest struggles of World War II in the Pacific.

More than 6,000 American troops never made it off that tiny island near Japan. Another 20,000 or so were wounded.

Vincek hit the beach on invasion day — Feb. 19, 1945 — and stayed until the monthlong fight was over, emerging with barely a scratch.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "It felt like I was one of the few walking out under my own power."

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On Feb. 19, 1945, more than 70,000 U.S. Marines conducted an amphibious assault to take the Island of Iwo Jima from fortified Japanese forces. Over the next 36 days nearly 7,000 Marines would be killed during the battle, which is regarded as one of the bloodiest of World War II, as they faced hidden enemy artillery, machine guns, vast bunker systems and underground tunnels. Of the 82 Marines who earned the Medal of Honor during all of World War II, 22 medals were earned for actions on Iwo Jima.

Now, 75 years later, 28 Marines and Sailors who fought on Iwo Jima gathered to remember the battle at the 75th and final commemoration sunset ceremony Feb. 15, 2020, at the Pacific Views Event Center on Camp Pendleton, California.

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(Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons)

Editor's note: A previous version of this article was published on Feb. 19, 2015.

Seventy-five years ago today, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone was killed in action during the battle of Iwo Jima and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for heroism — making him the first and only enlisted Marine to receive the Medal of Honor, as well as the Navy Cross, during World War II.

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Two Marines in the Marine Corps' 5th Division cemetery on Iwo Jima pay their respects to a fallen comrade. (United States Marine Corps Film Repository, USMC 101863 (16mm film frame))

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

When most Americans think of the World War II battle for Iwo Jima – if they think of it at all, 75 years later – they think of one image: Marines raising the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi, the island's highest point.

That moment, captured in black and white by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and as a color film by Marine Sergeant William Genaust, is powerful, embodying the spirit of the Marine Corps.

But these pictures are far from the only images of the bloodiest fight in the Marines' history. A larger library of film, and the men captured on them, is similarly emotionally affecting. It can even bring Americans alive today closer to a war that ended in the middle of the last century.

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As the green lines meet. Shell craters and rubble dot the landscape as the forward lines of the green-clad fourth and fifth division Marines meet in the inland push over the black sand of Iwo Jima. (National Archives / USMC).

Addo Bonetti of Torrington told the story of a sergeant's slow death 75 years ago on the island of Iwo Jima.

Frank Peters of Windsor recalled four Marines who were gone in an instant, and John Ray of Bloomfield recalled a young officer paralyzed by the horrors he witnessed on the bomb-blasted rock.

The three U.S. Marine Corps veterans are among the shrinking band of Iwo Jima survivors in the state and nation. The World War II battle claimed 6,821 American dead, including 100 Connecticut men, and was burned into the nation's memory by the image of valor and victory captured in the flag raising atop Mount Suribachi.

To mark the battle's 75th anniversary, the Connecticut-based Iwo Jima Survivors Association has organized events on Feb. 22 and 23. Rear Admiral Gregory N. Todd, chaplain of the Marine Corps, is among the special guests invited to the Feb. 23 ceremony at the Iwo Jima Memorial in New Britain.

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