Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, also known as one of the most heroic Marines in history. If you were to look in the dictionary you’d probably see a picture of his face, but I digress. He was born in Buffalo New York on November 4, 1916, and was the sixth of ten children.
At 18, Basilone enlisted in the Army and did a short tour in the Philippines. He was given the nickname Manila John, named after the capital of the Philippines. Basilone was discharged from the Army in 1937.Basilone returned home and worked as a truck driver in Reisterstown, Maryland. In 1940, Basilone enlisted in the Marine Corps because he felt it was his best shot to get back to the Philippines. Well, he got sent to Guantanamo Bay instead, Semper Gumby right?
World War 2
He did get his chance to go back to the Pacific when he fought in the Guadalcanal Campaign, with the 7th Marine Regiment. During the Second Battle of Henderson Field, Basilone directed his men’s fire, prepared a machine gun mostly by the feel of his hands because of low lighting, and according to his Medal of Honor citation, his efforts contributed in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. That’s about 3,000 enemy soldiers. Basilone commanded two sections of machine guns which fought for the next two days until only Basilone and two other Marines were left standing
After receiving his Medal of Honor, Basilone was sent back home to go on a war bond tour, but all he wanted was to be back in the fight with his men. After being denied a few times, John Basilone finally got his chance when he was assigned to the 5th Marine Division for the invasion of Iwo Jima. While there, he received a Navy Cross for single-handedly destroying an entire hostile strong point.
While the Marines landed he was serving as a machine gun section leader on Red Beach II. , the Japanese concentrated their fire at the incoming Marines from heavily fortified blockhouses staged throughout the island. With his unit pinned down, Basilone made his way around the side of the Japanese positions until he was directly on top of a blockhouse. He then attacked with grenades and demolitions, single-handedly destroying the entire strong point and its defending garrison. He then fought his way toward Airfield Number 1 and aided a Marine tank that was trapped in an enemy minefield under intense mortar and artillery barrages. He guided the heavy vehicle over the hazardous terrain to safety, despite heavy weapons fire from the Japanese.
Killed In Action
Basilone became the only enlisted marine during World War II to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. He gallantly gave his life for his country and was killed in action by either enemy mortar fire or from small arms fire-there is some debate as to which one actually killed him on February 19, 1945.