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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.


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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Richard E. Bush Corporal

Posted on Sep 15, 2016


Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam and Iraqi Freedom

Richard E. Bush
United States Marine Corps Reserve
Corporal Richard E. Bush
United States Marine Corps Reserve

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Squad Leader serving with the First Battalion, Fourth Marines, Sixth Marine Division, in action against Japanese forces during the final assault against Mt. Yaetake on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 16 April 1945. Rallying his men forward with indomitable determination, Corporal Bush boldly defied the slashing fury of concentrated Japanese artillery fire pouring down from the gun-studded mountain fortress to lead his squad up the face of the rocky precipice, sweep over the ridge and drive the defending troops from their deeply entreched position. With his unit, the first to break through to the inner defense of Mt. Yaetake, he fought relentlessly in the forefront of the action until seriously wounded and evacuated with others under protecting rocks. Although prostrate under medical treatment when a Japanese hand grenade landed in the midst of the group, Corporal Bush, alert and courageous inextremity as in battle, unhesitatingly pulled the deadly missle to himself and absorbed the shattering violenceof the exploding charge in his own body, thereby saving his fellow Marines form severe injury or death despite the certain peril to his own life. By his valiant leadership and aggressive tactics in the face of savage opposition, Corporal Bush contributed materially to the success of the sustained drive toward the conquest of this fiercely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire and his constant concern for the welfare of his men, his resolute spirit of self-sacrifice and his unwavering devotion to duty throughout the bitter conflict enhance and sustain the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service

Harry S. Truman
President of the United States

Master Gunnery Sergeant Richard E. Bush, who received the Medal of Honor as a corporal for heroism on Okinawa in World War II, was born in Glasgow, Kentucky, on 23 December 1924.

Before his enlistment on 22 September 1942 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, he worked for his father as a tractor driver and completed one year of high school. He received his basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, and later was transferred to a replacement battalion at Camp Elliott, California, for further training as an armorer. He later served with the highly decorated Marine Corps Raiders in the Pacific.

On 16 April 1945, Cpl Bush, as squad leader for 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 6th Marine Division, led his men in a charge against an enemy stronghold during the final assault against Mount Yaetake in northern Okinawa. During that action, he ignored his own wounds until ordered to seek treatment. While in the makeshift medical camp, Cpl Bush threw himself upon an enemy grenade that had been hurled among the medical staff and other wounded Marines. On 4 October 1945, President Harry S. Truman, in a White House ceremony, presented Cpl Bush with the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” He also was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received on Okinawa.

In the years following the war, MGySgt Bush worked for the Veterans Administration as a counselor and earned numerous civilian awards for his efforts to aid other veterans despite constant problems with his one functioning eye, a holdover from his World War II wounds.

Master Gunnery Sergeant Bush died of a heart ailment at the age of 79 on 7 June 2004 in Waukegan, Illinois. He was buried in Ascension Catholic Cemetery in Libertyville, Illinois.

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Franklin Earl Sigler

Posted on Sep 1, 2016

Private First Class Franklin Earl Sigler won the Medal of Honor during the Iwo Jima campaign in a one-man assault on a Japanese gun position which had been holding up the advance of his company for several days, and for annihilating the enemy gun crew with hand grenades. Although painfully wounded during his attack, he directed the fire of his squad and personally carried three of his buddies who were wounded to safety behind the lines.

The nation’s highest military decoration was presented to Private First Class Sigler during ceremonies at the White House. President Truman awarded the medal to him on Friday, October 5, 1945.

Franklin Earl Sigler was born at Montclair, New Jersey, November 6, 1924, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Sigler. They later moved to Little Falls, New Jersey, where he attended Little Falls High School prior to his enlistment in the Marine Corps on March 23, 1943.

Completing his recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, Private First Class Sigler was next transferred to the Guard Company, Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, in June, 1943.

In April, 1944 he joined Company F, 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, and in July he embarked aboard the USS Clay for Hilo, Hawaii. Later, he sailed for Iwo Jima where he won the Medal of Honor on March 14, 1945.

Private First Class Sigler, then a private, took command of his squad when his squad leader became a casualty and unhesitatingly lead them in a bold rush against an enemy gun position that had been holding up the advance of his company for several days.

Reaching the gun position first, he personally annihilated the gun crew with grenades. When more enemy troops began firing from tunnels and caves leading to the gun position, he, without consideration for his own safety, successfully scaled the rocks leading up to the position and alone assaulted the Japanese completely surprising them.

Although painfully wounded in this one-man assault, he refused to be evacuated, and crawling back to his squad, directed machine gun fire and rocket fire on the cave entrances. In the ensuing fight three of his men were wounded and Private First Class Sigler, disregarding the pain from his wound and the heavy enemy fire, carried them to safety behind the lines. Returning to his squad he remained with his men directing their fire until ordered to retire and seek medical aid.

Hospitalized in the U.S. Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland, he was discharged with the rank of private first class in June, 1946 because of disability resulting from his wounds. PFC Sigler died January 20, 1995.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Private First Class Sigler was awarded the American Campaign Medal; Good Conduct Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; Purple Heart, and the World War II Victory Medal.

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George Edward Wahlen

Posted on Aug 15, 2016

George Edward WahlenRank: Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class
Medal of Honor

Citation: conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano group on 3 March 1945. Painfully wounded in the bitter action on 26 February, Wahlen remained on the battlefield, advancing well forward of the frontlines to aid a wounded marine and carrying him back to safety despite a terrific concentration of fire. Tireless in his ministrations, he consistently disregarded all danger to attend his fighting comrades as they fell under the devastating rain of shrapnel and bullets, and rendered prompt assistance to various elements of his combat group as required. When an adjacent platoon suffered heavy casualties, he defied the continuous pounding of heavy mortars and deadly fire of enemy rifles to care for the wounded, working rapidly in an area swept by constant fire and treating 14 casualties before returning to his own platoon. Wounded again on 2 March, he gallantly refused evacuation, moving out with his company the following day in a furious assault across 600 yards of open terrain and repeatedly rendering medical aid while exposed to the blasting fury of powerful Japanese guns. Stouthearted and indomitable, he persevered in his determined efforts as his unit waged fierce battle and, unable to walk after sustaining a third agonizing wound, resolutely crawled 50 yards to administer first aid to still another fallen fighter. By his dauntless fortitude and valor, Wahlen served as a constant inspiration and contributed vitally to the high morale of his company during critical phases of this strategically important engagement. His heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming enemy fire upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

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Justice Marion Chambers

Posted on Aug 1, 2016

Justice M ChambersColonel Justice Marion Chambers, who received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Iwo Jima campaign, was born 2 February 1908 in Huntington, West Virginia. He went to school there and completed three years at Marshall College in Huntington. He attended George Washington University for two years and National University, both in Washington, D.C., where he obtained his law degree.

Following the completion of two years enlistment in the naval reserve in 1930, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve as a private. He was commissioned in 1932 and continued his studies toward promotion. He was a major, attending summer camp, when Washington’s 5th Battalion was called up in 1940. He was well known for the enthusiasm and energy with which he trained his men.

Lieutenant Colonel Chambers received the Silver Star Medal for evacuating the wounded and directing the night defense of a battalion aid station on Tulagi, where he himself was a patient already seriously wounded. He commanded the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines in the Roi-Namur campaign. On Saipan he suffered blast concussion, but returned to lead his command there and on Tinian. He was known in the Third Assualt Battalion as “Jumpin Joe”. He had trained his command so thoroughly and his leadership was so conspicuous that he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V.”

Lieutenant Colonel Chambers commanded the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines in the Iwo Jima landing on 19 February 1945. His sector was beneath high ground from which heavy enemy fire raked the whole landing beach. “Capture of the high ground,” the Medal of Honor recommendation stated, “…was essential to the success of the D-Day operations. It is an established fact that had it not been done, it would have constituted a most serious threat to the subsequent operations of the 5th Amphibious Corps.”

The 3d Battalion lost more than half its officers and nearly one-half its enlisted strength on D-Day. But by “fearless disregard for his own life” and leading his depleted battalion “by example rather than command,” Lt Col Chambers won the key heights and anchored the right flank of the Marines’ position.

On the fourth day, directing the Marines’ first rocket barrage and exposed to the enemy’s main line of resistance, Lt Col Chambers fell under enemy machine-gun fire. His wounds were so serious that he was medically retired and, because he had been specially commended for performance of duty in combat, he was promoted to colonel.

Presentation of the Medal of Honor was made at the White House by President Harry S. Truman on 1 November 1950. Col Chambers had been recommended for the award on 7 April 1945 following his evacuation, seriously wounded, from Iwo Jima. He had initially received the Navy Cross for his actions, but upon re-examination of the original recommendation with additional evidence, his award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor a few years later.

Colonel Chambers retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve 1 January 1946. After leaving the Marine Corps in 1946, he made his home in Rockville, Maryland. During his post-war career he served as assistant chairman of the Federal Personnel Council, staff advisor to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, and deputy director of the Office of Emergency Planning. Later he was president of his own consulting firm. His widow, Mrs. Barbara Chambers Skinner, said that he valued most the following:

  • His service in the United States Marine Corps and the ties with all the men with whom he served
  • His family
  • The Washington Redskins

The Marine Corps Reserve Center in Cleveland, Ohio, is named in his honor. He passed away on 29 July 1982, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery (6-5813-A-9), Arlington, Virginia.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Silver Star Medal and Legion of Merit with Combat “V,” Col Chambers’ decorations and medals include the Purple Heart Medal with two gold stars, Presidential Unit Citation with three bronze stars, Organized Marine Corps Reserve Medal with two stars, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star (denoting five campaigns), and the World War II Victory Medal.


Colonel Justice M. Chambers
United States Marine Corps Reserve

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the Third Assault Battalion Landing Team, Twenty-Fifth Marines, Fourth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands from 19 to 22 February 1945. Under a furious barrage of enemy machine-gun and small-arms fire from the commanding cliffs on the right, Colonel Chambers, then Lieutenant Colonel, landed immediately after the initial assault waves of his Battalion on D-Day to find the momentum of the assault threatened by heavy casualties from withering Japanese artillery, mortar, rocket, machine-gun and rifle fire. Exposed to relentless hostile fire, he coolly reorganized his battle-weary men, inspiring them to heroic efforts by his own valor and leading them in an attack on the critical, impregnable high ground from which the enemy was pouring an encreasing volumn of fire directly onto troops ashore as well as amphibious craft in succeeding waves. Constantly in the front lines encouraging his men to push forward against the enemy’s savage resistance, Colonel Chambers led the 8-hour battle to carry the flanking ridge top and reduce the enemy’s fields of aimed fire, thus protecting the vital foothold gained. In constant defiance of hostile fire while reconnoitering the entire Regimental Combat Team zone of action, he maintained contact with adjacent units and forwarded vital information to the Regimental Commander. His zealous fighting spirit undiminished despite terrific casualties and the loss of most of his key officers, he again reorganized his troops for renewed attack against the enemy’s main line of resistance and was directing the fire of the rocket platoon when he fell, critically wounded. Evacuated under heavy Japanese fire, Colonel Chambers, by forceful leadership, courage and fortitude in the face of staggering odds, was directly instrumental in insuring the success of subsequent operations of the Fifth Amphibious Corps on Iwo Jima, thereby sustaining and enhancing the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Harry S. Truman
President of the United States

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