After the initial invasion of Iwo Jima it soon became apparent that the island was very heavily fortified with many guns and troops. At the beginning of the invasion our sister ship, the Pensacola, took a direct hit from a shore battery into the bridge.
As the days progressed and the Marines took heavy losses, our ship was ordered to head bow first as close to the beach as possible. The idea was to use our ship as a stationary gun platform to fire at the Jap batteries hidden in the caves. The Salt Lake City had the most 8 inch guns of any heavy cruiser in the fleet. A total of 10....5 forward and 5 aft.
The forward two turrets of 5 guns were used, firing directly over the bow with very little elevation. I don't remember how effective our fire was but all the paint on the deck was burned off from the flash and the ship's bow further weakened. There was a LST (Landing Ship Tank) beached next to us with its doors open, having discharged its tank. As our ship rolled in the swells during the shelling, the sharp upper corner of the LST's hatch door gouged the steel skin of our hull.
Iwo Jima was a volcanic island that rose straight out of the sea on one side so that we had the deep water needed to bring the ship in close to point blank range. The beach used by the Marines for the invasion was on the other side of the island.
Written by Robert J. Serazin, Lt. (jg)
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