Veteran: John Basilone
Artist: Mike Koulermos
Writers: Mike Koulermos, Franklin D. Roosevelt
John Basilone a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant received the nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for heroism during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.
And he’s the only enlisted Marine to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross in World War II.
He served three years in the United States Army with duty in the Philippines.
He then enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940 and was deployed to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and then to Guadalcanal.
During the Battle for Henderson Field, his unit came under attack by a regiment of approximately 3,000 soldiers from the Japanese Sendai Division. The Japanese forces began a frontal attack using machine guns, grenades, and mortars against the American heavy machine guns.
Basilone who commanded two sections of machine guns that fought for the next two days, until only Basilone and two other Marines were left standing.
Basilone moved an extra gun into position, maintaining continual fire against the incoming Japanese forces. He then repaired and manned another machine gun, holding the defensive line until replacements arrived.
As the battle went on, ammunition became critically low. Despite their supply lines having been cutoff by enemies in the rear, Basilone fought through hostile ground to resupply his heavy machine gunners with urgently needed ammunition. When the last of it ran out shortly before dawn on the second day, Basilone held off the Japanese soldiers attacking his position using his pistol.
By the end of the engagement at Guadalcanal, Basilone held off 3,000 Japanese troops after his15-member unit was reduced to two other men. Basilone held off the Japanese soldiers attacking his position using his pistol. Japanese forces opposite their section were virtually annihilated.
For his actions during the battle, he received the United States military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor:
“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 two sections of heavy machine guns, 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 gun crews, 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.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt