Marine Corps Sergeant John M. Stryker is a tough guy with an even tougher job - turn a platoon of raw recruits into a combat-ready fighting machine. He pushes them mentally and physically to their limits - with discipline, hard work and sometimes with his fists - and they hate him for it, especially Pfc. Conway (John Agar), the son of Stryker's former CO.
Soon Stryker's lessons and their courage are put to the test in a costly skirmish, but the worst is yet to come in one of World War II's fiercest battles, the taking of Iwo Jima. Actual combat footage and the famous flag-raising scene on Mt. Suribachi highlight this gripping human drama of heroism and conquest, brought to life by a superb supporting cast and Wayne in one of the finest performances of his career.