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The onscreen credits include a dedication to the U.S. Marine Corps and a historical note which states that "The first American flag was raised on Mount Suribachi by the late Sgt. Ernest I. Thomas, Jr., U.S.M.C. on the morning of February 23, 1945." According to a New York Times news item, the United States Marine Corps approved the film's scenario. Appearing in the picture as themselves are Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith (Ret.), wartime commander of the Fifth Amphibious Corps; Capt. Harold Schrier, who led the platoon of Marines up the slopes of Suribachi; Lt. Col. H. P. Crowe, a battalion commander on Tarawa; and Col. David M. Shoup, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. A Los Angeles Daily News news item noted that nearly 2,000 Marines were used as extras in the making of the picture. According to a Los Angeles Times news item, for the shots depicting the flag raising, Maj. Andrew Greer permitted Republic to use the actual Iwo Jima flag, which was housed at the Marine Museum at Quantico, VA. The sequence is based on newsreel footage taken of the flag raising, as well as Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, which appeared in the March 26, 1945 edition of Life. To take the photograph, Rosenthal asked that the participants re-enact the actual flag raising, which had occurred some hours previous. The flag raising is also depicted at the Marine Corps Memorial statue in Arlington, VA.
The Variety review noted that many of the film's battle sequences were made up of "footage taken at the actual fighting at Tarawa and Iwo Jima." New York Times items indicated that filming took place at Camp Pendleton, Camp Del March and El Toro Marine Air Station in Southern California. A modern source notes that Wayne's footprints and handprints were placed at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in conjunction with the opening of the film there. Wayne received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Sands of Iwo Jima. Other nominations included Richard L. Van Enger for Best Film Editing, Harry Brown for Best Writing (Motion Picture Story) and Republic Studios' Sound Department for Best Sound Recording. According to a February 5, 1950 New York Times news item, Republic planned a sequel to the film, called Devil Birds, which was to star Wayne, but that picture was never made.