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Basilone, John "Manila John"

Date of birth:
November 4th, 1916 (Buffalo/New York, United States)
Date of death:
February 19th, 1945 (Iwo Jima, Bonin Islands, Japan)
Buried on:
American War Graves Arlington National Cemetery
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

Portrayed in the tv series 'The Pacific'.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Sergeant
Unit:
1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division "The Old Breed", U.S. Marine Corps
Action:
"For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Lunga Area. Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines' defensive positions, Sgt. Basilone, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machineguns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. Basilone's sections, with its guncrews, was put out of action, leaving only 2 men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived. A little later, with ammunition critically low and the supply lines cut off, Sgt. Basilone, at great risk of his life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."
Medal of Honor - Navy/Marine Corps (MoH)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Gunnery Sergeant (Warrant Officer Class Two)
Unit:
Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division "The Spearhead", U.S. Marine Corps
Action:
"For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Leader of a Machine-Gun Section, Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 19 February 1945. Shrewdly gauging the tactical situation shortly after landing when his company's advance was held up by the concentrated fire of a heavily fortified Japanese blockhouse, Gunnery Sergeant Basilone boldly defied the smashing bombardment of heavy caliber fire to work his way around the flank and up to a position directly on top of the blockhouse and then, attacking with grenades and demolitions, single handedly destroyed the entire hostile strong point and its defending garrison. Consistently daring and aggressive as he fought his way over the battle-torn beach and up the sloping, gun-studded terraces toward Airfield Number 1, he repeatedly exposed himself to the blasting fury of exploding shells and later in the day coolly proceeded to the aid of a friendly tank which had been trapped in an enemy mine field under intense mortar and artillerybarrages, skillfully guiding the heavy vehicle over the hazardous terrain to safety, despite the overwhelming volume of hostile fire. In the forefront of the assault at all times, he pushed forward with dauntless courage and iron determination until, moving upon the edge of the airfield, he fell, instantly killed by a bursting mortar shell. Stouthearted and indomitable, Gunnery Sergeant Basilone, by his intrepid initiative, outstanding skill, and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of the fanatic opposition, contributed materially to the advance of his company during the early critical period of the assault, and his unwavering devotion to duty throughout the bitter conflict was an inspiration to his comrades and reflects the highest credit upon Gunnery Sergeant Basilone and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country."
Details:
Awarded posthumously.
Navy Cross
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Unit:
U.S. Marine Corps
Purple Heart
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Details:
With one star.
American Defence Service Medal
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Details:
With two stars.
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

Sources

  • Photo: Home of Heroes
  • - McMillan, G., The Old Bree – A History of the First Marine Division in World War II, The Battery Press, Nashville, USA, 2001
    - Jordan, Kenneth N., Yesterday’s Heroes – 433 men of World War II awarded the Medal of Honor 1941-1945, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., USA, 1996
    - Recipients of The Navy Cross, 1916 - Present, by C. Douglas Sterner
    - Naval Historical Center