Posts made in June, 2016

James L. Day

Posted on Jun 15, 2016

James L. DayMajor General James Lewis Day (October 5, 1925 – October 28, 1998) was a United States Marine Corps major general who served in World War II, in the Korean War, and in the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions as a corporal on May 14 to 17 during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.

BIOGRAPHY

World War II

He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1943.

Day participated in combat action during World War II in the Marshall Islands , on Guam and on Okinawa , where for his heroic actions during the fight for Sugar Loaf Hill he was later awarded the Medal of Honor.

Korean War

In September 1952, he completed The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, and was transferred to Korea where he served with Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines and the 1st Reconnaissance Company.

Post Korea

First Lieutenant Day served as the S-3 officer, Marine Corps Supply Center, Barstow , California , until July 1954, when he was transferred to Camp Pendleton , California , for duty as Commanding Officer, Company C, Marine Corps Test Unit One. He was promoted to captain in December 1954. Capt Day remained at Camp Pendleton until May 1956, and was then assigned as Operations Officer of the Recruit Training Command, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

In September 1957, he was transferred to Okinawa and served as Commanding Officer, 4.2 Mortar Company, and later served as a battalion operations officer with the 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Returning stateside in December 1958, he was assigned as Instructor, Tactics Group, The Basic School, Quantico , Virginia . He was promoted to major in August 1962 and attended the Amphibious Warfare School , also at Quantico . Major Day was transferred to the 4th Marine Corps District in July 1963 and served as Inspector-Instructor, 43rd Rifle Company, Cumberland , Maryland .

Vietnam War

In April 1966, Maj Day served his first tour in Vietnam as Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Returning to Camp Pendleton in June 1967, he was assigned as the Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in July 1967 and in January 1968, he was reassigned as Battalion Commander, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, Camp Pendleton .

Lieutenant Colonel Day served at Pearl Harbor , Hawaii , from July 1969 to June 1971 and attended the Army War College , Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania , from July 1971 to June 1972. After graduation, he served his second tour in Vietnam as Operations Officer, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, III Marine Amphibious Force.

Post Vietnam

He was reassigned as Commanding Officer, Camp Fuji , Japan , in March 1973. He was promoted to Colonel in November 1973 and was transferred to Philadelphia for duty as Deputy Director, and later, Director, 4th Marine Corps District. He remained in that billet until April 1, 1976, when he was advanced to Brigadier General. He assumed duties as Assistant Depot Commander, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, in May 1976, and on November 1, 1977, he became Commanding General of the Depot, serving in that capacity until March 11, 1978.

On April 29, 1978, he was assigned duty as Deputy Director for Operations, J-3, NMCC, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington , D.C. During July 1979, BGen Day was assigned duty as the Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division/Commanding General, 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Camp Pendleton . He was promoted to major general on August 1, 1980, and assumed duty as the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, and was ultimately assigned the additional duty as Commanding General, Ist Marine Amphibious Force, on July 1, 1981. He served in that capacity until August 1982 when he was assigned duty as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Training, Headquarters , U.S. Marine Corps, Washington , D.C. In July 1984, he was assigned duty as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler/Deputy Commander, Marine Corps Bases, Pacific (Forward)/Okinawa Area Coordinator, Okinawa , Japan . He served in this capacity until his retirement on December 1, 1986. Upon his retirement, he was presented the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States for duties while serving in his final duty station.

Medal of Honor

Major General Day was presented the Medal of Honor on January 20, 1998, over a half a century after the World War II battle on Okinawa in which he distinguished himself.

Death

He died of a heart attack later that year on October 28, 1998 in Cathedral City , California . He was laid to rest in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California .

Medal of Honor citation

Major General James L. Day was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award for valor, for heroism on Okinawa as a corporal while serving as a squad leader of Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marines, 6th Marine Division.

Citation

The President of the United States in the name of the Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

CORPORAL JAMES L. DAY
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a squad leader serving with the Second Battalion, Twenty-Second Marines, Sixth Marine Division, in sustained combat operations against Japanese forces on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands from 14 to 17 May 1945. On the first day, Corporal Day rallied his squad and the remnants of another unit and led them to a critical position forward of the front lines of Sugar Loaf Hill. Soon thereafter, they came under an intense mortar and artillery barrage that was quickly followed by a fanatical ground attack of about forty Japanese soldiers. Despite the loss of one-half of his men, Corporal Day remained at the forefront, shouting encouragement, hurling hand grenades, and directing deadly fire thereby repelling the determined enemy. Reinforced by six men, he led his squad in repelling three fierce night attacks but suffered five additional Marines killed and one wounded whom he assisted to safety. Upon hearing nearby calls for corpsman assistance, Corporal Day braved heavy enemy fire to escort four seriously wounded Marines, one at a time, to safety. Corporal Day then manned a light machine gun assisted by a wounded Marine, and halted another frenzied night attack. In this ferocious action, his machine gun was destroyed, and he suffered multiple white phosphorus and fragmentation wounds. Assisted by only one partially effective man, he reorganized his defensive position in time to halt a fifth enemy attack with devastating small arms fire. On three separate occasions, Japanese soldiers closed to within a few feet of his foxhole, but were killed by Corporal Day. During the second day, the enemy conducted numerous unsuccessful swarming attacks against his exposed position. When the attacks momentarily subsided, over 70 enemy dead were counted around his position. On the third day, a wounded and exhausted Corporal Day repulsed the enemy’s final attack and dispatched around 12 of the enemy at close range. Having yielded no ground and with more than 100 enemy dead around his position, Corporal Day preserved the lives of his fellow Marines and made a primal contribution to the success of the Okinawa campaign. By his extraordinary heroism, repeated acts of valor, and quintessential battlefield leadership, Corporal Day inspired the efforts of his outnumbered Marines to defeat a much larger enemy force, reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Other honors

A Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to Day for Veterans Day in 1999, recognizing him as one of five Medal of Honor recipients from the Southern California desert area. James L. Day Middle School in Temecula, California is named after him.

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Hershel W. Williams

Posted on Jun 1, 2016

Hersel W. WilliamsHershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams (born October 2, 1923) is a retired United States Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. He is also the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from that battle.

Early years

Born in Fairmont , West Virginia , on October 2, 1923, Williams grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Quiet Dell. He worked a series of odd jobs in the area, including as a truck driver for W.S. Harr Construction Company of Fairmont and as a taxi driver. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, he was working in Montana as a Civilian Conservation Corps enrollee. After being turned away once from the U.S. military for being too short, he successfully enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in Charleston , West Virginia , on May 26, 1943

World War II service

Williams received his recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. Upon completion, he was sent to the Camp Elliott training center in San Diego , where he joined the tank training battalion on August 21, 1943. The following month he was transferred to the training center’s infantry battalion for instruction as a demolition man and in the use of flamethrowers.

Williams joined the 32nd Replacement Battalion on October 30, 1943, and left for New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific on December 3 aboard the M.S. Weltey Reden. In January 1944, he joined the 3rd Marine Division at Guadalcanal , attached to the 1st Battalion, 21st Marines, first to Company C and then to Headquarters Company.

During July and August 1944, he participated in action against the Japanese at Guam , and in October he rejoined Company C.

Medal of Honor action

His next campaign was at Iwo Jima where he distinguished himself with actions “above and beyond the call of duty”? for which he would be awarded the Medal of Honor. Landing on February 21, 1945, Williams, by then a corporal, distinguished himself two days later when American tanks, trying to open a lane for infantry, encountered a network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands.[1] Williams went forward alone with his 70-pound flamethrower to attempt the reduction of devastating machine gun fire from the unyielding positions.

Covered by only four riflemen, he fought for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flame throwers. He returned to the front, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. At one point, a wisp of smoke alerted him to the air vent of a Japanese bunker, and he approached close enough to put the nozzle of his flamethrower through the hole, killing the occupants. On another occasion, he was charged by enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and he killed them with a burst of flame from his weapon.

These actions occurred on the same day as the raising of the U.S. flag on the island’s Mount Suribachi , although Williams was not able to witness the event. He fought through the remainder of the five-week-long battle and was wounded on March 6, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart.

In September 1945, he returned to the United States , and on October 1 he joined Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington , D.C. He was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on October 5, 1945, at the White House.

Later career

On October 22, 1945, he was transferred to the Marine Barracks, Naval Training Center Bainbridge, Maryland , for discharge. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve on November 6, 1945. In March 1948, he reenlisted in the inactive Marine Corps Reserve, but was again discharged on August 4, 1949.

On October 20, 1954, he joined the Organized Marine Reserve when the 98th Special Infantry Company was authorized by Headquarters Marine Corps to be located at Clarksburg , West Virginia . He transferred to the Marine Corps Reserve’s 25th Infantry Company in Huntington , West Virginia on June 9, 1957, later becoming the (Interim) Commanding Officer of that unit as a warrant officer on June 6, 1960. He was designated the Mobilization Officer for the 25th Infantry Company and surrounding Huntington area on June 11, 1963.

He was advanced through the warrant officer ranks during his time in the Marine Corps Reserve until reaching his final rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO4). Although CWO4 Williams technically did not meet retirement requirements, he was honorarily retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1969 after approximately 17 years of service.

Williams struggled with the after-effects of combat stress until 1962, when he experienced a religious renewal. He later served as chaplain of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society for 35 years.

On February 2, 2011, Williams appeared on an episode of Sons of Guns where his unservicable flamethrower was refurbished back to working condition. The episode ended with Williams successfully firing the weapon at the age of 87.
Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

CORPORAL HERSHEL W. WILLIAMS
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Demolition Sergeant serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-First Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Island, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines and black, volcanic sands, Corporal Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame thrower through the air vent, kill the occupants and silence the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided in enabling his company to reach its’ objective. Corporal Williams’ aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

/S/ HARRY S. TRUMAN

His citation and a Medal of Honor tapestry are on display in the Medal of Honor exhibit of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library.
Honors

In 1965, Williams received West Virginia ‘s Distinguished Service Medal. In 1967, he was honored by the Veteran’s Administration with the Vietnam Service Medal for service as a civilian counselor to the armed forces. In 1999, he was added to the City of Huntington Foundation ‘s “Wall of Fame”. He received the 2014 Founder’s Award for extraordinary contributions to the mission of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library and the preservation of the heritage of the Citizen Soldier.

Named in his honor:

  • the West Virginia National Guard Armory in Fairmont , West Virginia ;
  • a bridge at Barboursville, West Virginia ; and
  • an athletic field at Huntington, West Virginia .
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