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I am sorry to end my life here, fighting the United States of America, but I want to defend this island as long as possible and to delay the enemy air raids on Tokyo.
— Tadamichi Kuribayashi in a letter to his wife

General Tadamichi Kuribayashi was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, part-time writer, haiku poet, diplomat, and General of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. He is best known for being the overall commander of the Japanese garrison during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Kuribayashi graduated from Nagano High School in 1911. Although he had originally aspired to be a journalist, Kuribayashi was persuaded by his high school instructors to instead enter the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. Kuribayashi graduated from the Army Academy's 26th class in 1914, having specialized in cavalry. He continued on to the Army's Cavalry School in 1918. In 1923, he graduated from the 35th class of the Army War College with splendid marks and received a military saber from the Taisho Emperor. Kuribayashi was designated as deputy military attaché to Washington, D.C. in 1928.

Unlike most Japanese commanders in World War II, Tadamichi was a humanist, who treated his American adversary with honor and respect. He also was known for having expressed the belief that Japan's war against the United States was a no-win situation and needed to be ended via a negotiated peace.

While leading his troops in the Battle of Iwo Jima, Kuribayashi went missing in action. Some historians believe he died while assaulting an American camp alongside his men, while others believe he died during an artillery barrage. Less credible theories suggest he committed seppuku at his own base. Either way, Kuribayashi's body was never found or identified.

Battle vs. Erwin Rommel (by Elgb333)

Somewhere in the Pacific Islands

Erwin Rommel clings to his compass, looking as the arrow constantly shifts its weight from one direction to another. Sweat was pouring from his face, his mind focused on what lies ahead. He is away from his comfort zone. Sailing away into a foreign land, he is nervous, for he has made enemies from both sides of the war. Rommel thinks deep about his family, whether or not he might ever see them again, nor what those traitorous snakes are planning to do. As his ship finally arrives at the island, he keeps his whole body firm, ready for whatever might come next.

Rommel has been sent by his superiors to talk with the Imperial Japanese about finally attacking Russia together. It seemed to be the right time that the two forces finally work together in the field, and with a combined attack from both borders, Russian would have stood no chance. Rommel is hoping that this talk with the Orientals will be over soon, for he has other important and life-threatening matters to attend to back home. As he and his men finally walk pass the beach, they saw from afar the Japanese soldiers who are about to welcome them.

"I don't like this place, and I certainly don't trust this people sir," Rommel's young private said as they trudge the rocky terrain. The young lad was right, the place was cold and barren, and the pacific winds put deathly chills in their nerves. Very different from the healthy frost back in Europe.

"It'll be alright boy. I heard they are honorable men. Besides, we are Germans, we do not shy away from others such as them," Rommel said, trying to assure his platoon.

"But what if they do something dirty. I don't like the way they look at us,"

Rommel, upon hearing this, pats the soldier on his back with a stern smile on his face. "If they do try to kill me. Hopefully our Fuhrer will replace me with someone who will not make the same foolish mistake I might do."

The Germans now faced the Japanese, their eyes set on each other with calm but cynical expression. General Kuribayashi had already fixed a table with food for the Desert Fox, and he invites him to sit. Rommel gladly takes the offer, and is handed over a glass of wine and some fresh fried shrimps.

"You must be very tired from your journey Field Marshal. Please let your men rest before we talk war," The young General said. Rommel is both amazed and intimidated. The Japanese general had a class of his own, but he surely show that he's a very educated man, and a fine soldier of action. Rommel knows that these type of warriors are hard to come by. But nonetheless, Rommel came here for war, and nothing more.

"I didn't came here for sight-seeing or a vacation General, I came here to talk, and I really hope we can finally be serious of this matter," Rommel said after putting his glass down and standing up. "The Russians, though they have an advantage with their weather, we might just--"

But before Rommel can finish, he suddenly spot some Japanese positioning themselves in the rocky cliffs, well hidden in the rocks. One of them started assembling a light machine gun from afar. Rommel quickly gave Kuribayashi a threatening look, "What is the meaning of this?"

Kuribayashi calmly stood up and and puts his eyes on Rommel's. Both men faced each other as their men aimed their weapons in a stand-off. "I'm very sorry Marshal, but a soldier must do what he is ordered to do. A week ago, my superiors received a letter from your Fuhrer. Demanding your head, in exchange for Russian land for my country once yours took over."

"You can't do this! Where is your honor?" Rommel said as both forces aimed their rifles nervously at what was going to escalate.

Kuribayashi ragefully unsheats his gunto and raises it above his head. "There's nothing personal about this, we are all but pawns!"

With a quick swipe, both forces fired at each other. Rommel and Kuribayashi bolted to opposite directions, while their men fired their rifles ina free-for all firefight. Immediately two Japanese soldiers died, while Rommel lost one of hisDarkred.pngDarkred.pngBlue.png. Rommel then ordered his men to fall back to the ship.

The Japanese soldier from the ridge opened fire on the retreating Germans, cutting one in halfBlue.png. As Rommel and his men were pinned down on the rocks with the overwhelming machine gun fire, he quickly draws his walther and ordered one of his soldiers to fire at the machine gunner with the rocket launcher. But the Japanese quickly cuts him down as he tried to aimBlue.png. "Scheisse!" Rommel yelled. The Germans were trapped, and Rommel can see the face of his men, withing helplessly as their cover was getting blown to shreds. With audacity he ordered them to cover him as he charges. He quickly crawls through the remaining rock cover, and grabs the rocket launcher as bullets flies over him. His men were amazed of his bravery, but he quickly gets them back into action as he handed one with the launcher. Rommel and the others provided covering fire, as the rocket flies into the air and blows the Japanese machine gun to smitherinsDarkred.png. With a yell, Rommel pushes his men to take the fight to the Japanese, and with this the Japanese started falling back. The powerful German firearms was far superior than the Japanese, and the latter became heavily outgunned.

"Shimada," Kuribayashi said as he saw the Germans flood in. He then commanded his men to fall back to tunnels. He hopes that the tunnels will turn the tide into his favor, where the fight will be even. The Japanese quickly disappear into the dark abyss, and the Germans quickly follow. Rommel ordered his men to stay sharp. The caves were not lit well, and the stench was horrible. The tunnels get wider and wider, further dispersing his men.

Little did he know, that the Japanese have already positioned themselves in front of them, and has them on their sights. "Should we fire now shishio?" A Japanese asked Kuribayashi.

"No, not yet. They need to be closer,"

As the Germans go deeper and deeper, Kuribayashi finally finds the right moment and signaled his men to open fire. Japanese machine gun and rifle fire erupted, sending shock into the Germans. Rommel ordered his men to go prone, but the Japanese' overwhelming fire was just too much. A German perished in the assault, his bodies bursted into red pulpsBlue.png. Some of the Japanese charged at the helpless Germans with their bayonets. One German was butchered right on the spotBlue.png. But Rommel and the young private opened fire at the bastards, killing one in retaliationDarkred.png. The young German soldier stood up during the onslaught, and aimed his Mp40 at Kuribayashi. But as his bullets fly, one Japanese soldier shields his General, getting killed in the processDarkred.png. Kuribayashi quickly retaliated by shooting the young German in the chest.

"Schiesse...," The German said as he coughed up blood. "Nein!" Rommel yelled as he quickly went to the boy's aid. As he picked him up on his shoulder, he fired his walther steadily at Kuribayashi as they try to escape the tunnel.

Kuribayashi and his remaining soldier gave chase. As Rommel put distance from their pursuers, he comforted the dying soldier. "F-finish this sir. I believe you can. Y-you always do..."Blue.png

Rommel face darkened as he lost his last man. Alone in a foreign land, the heavy burden of loosing those who have trusted him weighted his soul. Now, he turns his head at the Japanese heading his way. He has to avenge his fellow German, may it be the last thing he ever do.

Rommel grabs the MP-40 and stealthfully encircled the Japanese, as they unwittingly arrived to see nothing more than a dead German. Using the cover of the rocks, he successfully crept behind their backs, and with the submachine gun, fired full auto at the two. Kuribayashi got hit in the arm, and he fell down with a cry. The other Japanese soldier wasn't so lucky, and Rommel emptied the magazine on his gutDarkred.png.

As blood splatter on Kuribayashi's face, he looks up and saw Rommel's face, darkened with fury. Like seeing the devil himself. Kuribayashi shakingly bows his head down on the sand, before picking himself up slowly.

Rommel threw his submachine gun away and grabbed his pistol. Kuribayashi grabbed his as he finally stood up. "I'm sorry we have to go all through this. This could have ended far more easier."

Rommel said nothing, for his eyes burning with rage at the Japanese. "Well, it seems both our governments want us dead. You see, they know I would stand little chance against the great Erwin Rommel. I mean, who am I to be standing on the same ground as you do. It ends with one of us dead, the other proving he is mightier of the two. But I consider myself lucky, for unlike you, if I die, I die on the land of my own country."

Then the two circled each other in a final duel. Rommel quickly aims his walther, but Kuribayashi grabs his arm and judo throws him to the ground. Rommel tried to stand up, but Kuribayashi stomps his head, before aiming his colt at him. But Rommel regained his senses quickly and punches Kuribayashi in the knee, making him fall over. Rommel then tackled Kuribayashi to the ground, and started pounding on him. But Kuribayashi gets a hold of his pistol and fires, grazing Rommel in the cheek. Kuribayashi tried to fire a second shot, but Rommel quickly rolls out of his aim, before firing his walther, hitting Kuribayashi between the eyes. Kuribayashi's dead body fell to the ground, lifeless and coldDarkred.png.

Tired and bruised, Rommel limps away back to his ship. He has won the battle, but knows it was nothing compared to what awaits him back at home. As the ship lay in front of him, he kneeled down, trying to catch his breath. Before finally giving out a powerful yell, letting out all of his exhaustion, fear, and anger.

Rommel, with tears from his eyes, looks at the sun, which was starting to sink below the ocean.

Expert's Opinion

Although Kuribayashi's tenacity and guerilla tactics prolonged the inevitable, Rommel won because he was smarter, more successful in the battlefield and had better weapons.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.