Special Report

19 Amphibious Assaults That Changed the Course of History

Source: FPG / Archive Photos via Getty Images

16. Iwo Jima, Japan
> Date(s): Feb. 19, 1945
> Conflict: WWII
> Landing force: 110,000
> Invaders: United States
> Defenders: Japan

By 1945, the momentum of the U.S. involvement in World War II had shifted to the Pacific, marked by two massive operations during America’s maritime march to Japan: Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Both were hard-won, massive amphibious assaults against deeply entrenched and hardened Japanese troops as well as kamikaze aircraft that targeted U.S. Navy ships that provided support.

Over 36 days of horrendous combat at Iwo Jima, Marine and Navy personnel sustained more than 24,000 casualties, the highest losses in any single action in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

17. Okinawa, Japan
> Date(s): April 1, 1945
> Conflict: WWII
> Landing force: 60,000
> Invaders: United States and allies
> Defenders: Japan

Operation Iceberg, as it is known, was the last major amphibious assault of World War II, taking place less than three months before the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that expedited the Japanese surrender. After a pre-invasion bombardment by U.S. Navy warships, tens of thousands of U.S. Army and Marine Corps soldiers landed under intense fire at Okinawa and other nearby islands. Some 12,500 U.S. troops were killed and about 36,500 were wounded securing Okinawa in fighting that raged for nearly three months.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. Incheon, South Korea
> Date(s): Sept. 15-19, 1950
> Conflict: Korean War
> Landing force: 70,000
> Invaders: South Korea, United Nations, United States and allies
> Defenders: North Korea

Operation Chromite was the most significant amphibious assault of the Korean War. It took place at Incheon, a port city 110 miles behind enemy lines in what is today a South Korean city bordering the capital city of Seoul to the west. At the time, Seoul was occupied by North Korean troops. U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s plan was to use Incheon as a staging ground for liberating Seoul.

Aided by carrier-based warplanes, destroyers, and cruisers, American-led U.N. forces took the port in a decisive victory that would mark the start of the allied offensive into North Korea. The war ended with an armistice in July 1953, but ongoing tensions between the two Koreas remains to this day.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

19. Al-Faw Peninsula, Iraq
> Date(s): Feb. 9-25, 1986
> Conflict: Iran-Iraq War
> Landing force: 150,000
> Invaders: Iran
> Defenders: Iraq

Iran and Iraq had already been fighting for more than five years when Iran deployed Revolutionary Guard commandos trained in amphibious warfare to take Al-Faw Peninsula, Iraq’s only direct access to the Persian Gulf. The occupation of the peninsula would also threaten the city of Basra. Iranian soldiers used speedboats to cross marshland and rivers to occupy Iraqi land for the first time in the war. What ensued was brutal fighting that included Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. In April, Iraq took back the peninsula, but the war would rage on for another 28 months before ending in a stalemate.

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