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