Today, the Marine Corps Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin remembers the events of 47 years ago when the United States gave control of Iwo Jima, Mount Suribachi and the Bonin Islands back to Japan.
On June 26, 1968, the Lodi News-Sentinel printed the following article:
The Japanese flag was raised Wednesday over Iwo Jima for the first time in 23 years. It signaled the end to U.S. control of the island where more than 26,000 Americans and Japanese died in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
Of the 6,821 Americans who fell in the 36-day battle beginning on Feb. 19, 1945, the majority were Marines.
On Wednesday, a lone Leatherneck stood stiffly at attention as trumpet notes sounded clear and true and the Rising Sun replaced the Stars and Stripes flying over the island.
“I was thinking about a lot of Marines who got killed during the war,” said Col. Miller Blue after the brief ceremony. The Silver Star winner was flown here from Hawaii to represent the Marine Corps during the change of command ceremonies.
Before Blue left the island four days after U.S. forces launched the attack, with bullet wounds in both legs, he saw the American flag flying atop Mt. Suribachi.
An estimated 20,000 Japanese died in the vain attempt to repel the American invaders. And ceremonies marking the return of Iwo Jima and other islands in the Bonin chain also honored the courage of the Japanese defenders. Of a defense force estimated at more than 21,000, only 1,083 were taken prisoner.
In Tokyo ceremonies marking the return of the Bonin Islands to Japanese control, Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and U.S. Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson emphasized the peaceful nature of the switchover.
Speaking at a rally in the Hibiya Public Hall, attended by Crown Prince Akihito and Japanese government and political leaders, Johnson said: “In this troubled modern world, peaceful changes in the administration of territory are indeed a rare and unusual occurrence. In the case of the change we celebrate today, no armies marched, no shots were fired, no threats were issued and no demonstrations were involved.”
The United States agreed to return the islands to Japan last November when Prime Minister Eisaku Sato visited President Johnson in Washington. The formal agreement was signed in Tokyo last April.
Honor guards form the Japanese self-defense corps, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard took part in the change of command ceremony here.
Similarly, the Deseret News printed news about the change in the flags:
Americans hauled down the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima today 23 years after a band of Marines raised the U.S. flag atop battle-scarred Mt. Suribachi in a bloody World War II battle.
When six Marines put the flag in place on Iwo Jima, it was one of the inspiring moments in the history of American fighting men. An Associated Press picture of the event became one of the most reproduced photos in the world.
The Stars and Stripes came down in simple ceremony on the sun-baked island where in February and March, 1945, 6,821 Americans and 19,000 Japanese died in 26 days of fighting.
“To the Colors” sounded as two American Air Force sergeants brought down the flag and folded it. Air Force Maj. Paul Gerber saluted his Japanese opposite number.
“Sir, I relinquish command of Iwo Jima installation,” he said.
The Marine Corps Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin with its historic image of the Marines raising the flag in 1945 shows against a view of Mount Suribachi, circa 2001.