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JAPANESE NAVAL HEADQUARTERS CAVE: This particular cave/tunnel complex has poor oxygen circulation. We were told to carry a candle into this cave, and that if it went out we were to leave. Guarding the entrance, about 100 feet inside as a heavy machine gun position. We know this was for Type 92 heavy machine gun from the piles of empty 30 round ammunition strips that littered the floor. Upon closer inspection we found countless spent 7.7mm shell casings. The gunners that manned this position were well protected, being so far back from the tunnel entrance it would be close to impossible to take them out.

Behind the heavy machine gun position, at the tail end of the entrance (from the opening to this point was a good 130 feet) was a pile of metal ration and food cans. The ration cans were the typical Japanese issue, which contain all sorts from pickles to crab meat. The large cans were of a more modern “American” size, and were a civilian rather than a military issue size. It is our thought that this might be where the two Japanese hold outs hid from the Americans after the battle and up until 1949 when they surrendered. It is known that both the Iwo Jima hold-outs Yamakage Kufuku and Matsudo Linsoki were naval machine gunners – This very spot was clearly one of a machine gun position, guarding the naval headquarters cave complex. After the war these two hold outs survived off of what they could find in the tunnels and from what they could pilfer from the American airmen who were stationed on the island.

As we ventured deep into the naval complex the air did become thin, with a succession of off-shooting tunnels leading down towards the medical cave, and medical officer’s cave. These passages ways were marked with red tags, which warned of booby traps. Needless to say we did not venture further.

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