Posts made in October, 2016

Private Wilson D. Watson

Posted on Oct 15, 2016

Private Wilson D. Watson, United States Marine Corps Reserve

Wilson Douglas Watson, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism on Iwo Jima in World War II, was born on 16 February 1921 in Earle, Arkansas.

Before his enlistment in Little Rock, Arkansas, on 6 August 1942, he worked on his father’s farm and completed seven years of grade school. Pvt Watson received his basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, and went overseas 24 January 1943.

Serving as an automatic rifleman with the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division during the bitter fighting on Iwo Jima, Pvt Watson earned the Medal of Honor for heroism during 26-27 February 1945, when he single-handedly killed more than 60 Japanese and enabled his pinned-down platoon to continue the advance. He was evacuated from Iwo Jima after suffering a gun shot wound in the neck on 2 March 1945. He previously saw action at Bougainville and Guam.

Private Watson was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on 5 October 1945 at the White House. Following his discharge from the Marine Corps, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private on 30 September 1946, eventually reaching the rank of specialist 5.

Specialist 5 Watson died on 19 December 1994 in Russellville, Arkansas.

Citation

Private Wilson D. Watson
United States Marine Corps Reserve

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Automatic Rifleman serving with the Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 26 and 27 February 1945. With his squad abruptly halted by intense fire from the enemy fortifications in the high rocky ridges and crags commanding the line of advance, Private Watson boldly rushed one pillbox and fired into the embrasure with his weapon, keeping the enemy pinned down single-handedly until he was in a position to hurl in a grenade and running to the rear of the emplacement to destroy the retreating Japanese and enable his platoon to take its objective. Again pinned down at the foot of a small hill, he dauntlessly scaled the jagged incline under fierce mortar and machine-gun barrages and with his assistant automatic rifleman charged the crest of the hill, firing from his hip. Fighting furiously against Japanese troops attacking with grenades and knee-mortars from the reverse slope, he stood fearlessly erict in his exposed position to cover the hostile entrenchments and held the hill under savage fire for fifteen minutes, killing sixty Japanese before his ammunition was exhausted and his platoon was able to join him. His courageous initiative and valiant fighting spirit against devastating odds were directly responsible for the continued advance of his platoon and his inspiring leadership throughout this bitterly fought action reflects the highest credit upon Private Watson and the United State Naval Service.

Harry S. Truman
President of the United States

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James Richard Hendrix

Posted on Oct 1, 2016

Image result for us army james richard hendrixJames Richard Hendrix was a World War II veteran and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during that war.

James Hendrix, the son of a sharecropper, was born on August 20, 1925, in the small town of Lepanto (Poinsett County) near Jonesboro (Craighead County), Arkansas. At an early age, he left school to work alongside his parents, Pearl Hendrix and James Hendrix Sr., on the family farm. In 1943, at age eighteen, Hendrix was drafted into the U.S. Army. After attending basic training in Florida, Private Hendrix was sent to Europe assigned to the Fifty-third Armored Infantry Battalion, Fourth Armored Division.

Hendrix, along with his unit, waited out the Allied invasion of Normandy on a ship in the English Channel. His unit then landed and began the march across France to Belgium as part of General George S. Patton?s Third Army.

On December 26, 1944, near Assenois, Belgium, Hendrix captured two enemy artillery gun crews and held off enemy machine gun fire as his wounded comrades were evacuated. According to his Medal of Honor citation, “Later in the attack he again left his vehicle, voluntarily, to aid two wounded soldiers, helpless and exposed to intense machine gun fire. Effectively silencing two hostile machine guns, he held off the enemy by his own fire until the wounded men were evacuated. Pvt. Hendrix again distinguished himself when he hastened to the aid of still another soldier who was trapped in a burning half-track. Braving enemy sniper fire and exploding mines and ammunition in the vehicle, he extricated the wounded man and extinguished his flaming clothing, thereby saving the life of his fellow soldier.”For what was called ‘superb courage and heroism’, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman at the White House on August 23, 1945.

Hendrix continued his military career following World War II, joining the paratroopers. Hendrix also served in the Korean War. He retired in 1965 at the rank of master sergeant.

Hendrix died on November 14, 2002, at his home in Davenport, Florida. He was survived by his wife, Helen; four daughters and their children; and two sisters. He is buried at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida.

For additional information:

Collier, Peter. Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor beyond the Call of Duty. New York: Workman Publishing Company, 2006.

Goldstein, Richard. “James R Hendrix, War Hero, Dies at 77.” New York Times, November 21, 2002. Online http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/21/us/james-r-hendrix-war-hero-dies-at-77.html (accessed November 1, 2012).

Ware, David. Beyond the Call of Duty, Arkansas Honors Its Veterans. Little Rock: Arkansas Secretary of State, 2002.

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