Holland ‘Howlin’ Mad’ Smith is considered the father of amphibious warfare. As Marine Commander of the V Amphibious Corps, he trained and led his troops in the assaults on Kiska and Attu in the Aleutians, Tarawa and Makin in the Gilbert Islands, Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Marshalls, and Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas. In August 1944 he was made Commanding General of Fleet Marine Force Pacific, directed operations at Guam and led Task Force 56 on Iwo Jima.
Smith developed the techniques that became the standard for amphibious assaults involving the complex coordination of land, sea and air forces. All of his operations resulted in extremely high casualty figures which did not deter Smith at all. He was a very tough and hard driving leader. However after the enormous losses on the Gilbert Islands, Smith maintained that the struggle was unnecessary and the islands could have been bypassed. Smith often had problems obtaining co-operation between the Army and the Marines, a difficulty which came to a head during the Iwo Jima invasion. However Smith’s skillful administration of amphibious techniques he had developed, rendered the differences unimportant and the landings and battle at Iwo Jima successful.