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A One Man Army “Manila John” Gunnery Sgt. Basilone – Soldier of Fortune Magazine

Gunnery Sergeant Basilone
Gunnery Sergeant Basilone

The legend of Gunnery Sgt. Basilone
By Cpl. Clinton Firstbrook |

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus introduced That a destroyer shall be named after “Manila John,” Basilone, who acquired the Medal of Honor for his heroism at Guadalcanal and was later posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for destroying an enemy blockhouse and serving to to save lots of a U.S. tank at Iwo Jima.

This would be the second destroyer to be named after Basilone. The primary USS Basilone was decommissioned in 1977.

For greater than 70 years Marines have heard concerning the legendary acts of Gunnery Sgt. John “Manila” Basilone.

Within the steaming jungles of Guadalcanal, two sections of heavy .30-caliber machine weapons on the Tenaru River have been in cost of defending a slender move to Henderson Airfield within the Solomon Islands. All of the sudden, Japanese forces attacked their place. Vastly out numbered, the Marines held their floor and fought valiantly to verify the savage and decided assault.

Abruptly one of the gun crews was knocked out. Disregarding his personal life, a Marine lifted his 90 kilos of weaponry and raced 200 yards to the silenced gun pit and began firing. Enemy troopers attacked to his rear. He minimize them down together with his Colt .45 pistol. Brief of shells, he dashed 200 yards amid a stream of bullets to an ammunition dump and returned with an armload of ammo for his gunners. This Marine battled his means by way of hostile strains operating forwards and backwards between gun pits clearing jams and re-supplying the opposite Marines with ammo. Flares lit up extra swarms of grenade-tossing attackers. The Marines’ palms began blistering from the warmth of his machine gun, however nonetheless he stored capturing.

At daybreak, reinforcements discovered this Marine resting his head on the edge of his pit. The road had held. Almost 100 sprawled enemy lifeless have been round his cut-off outpost. A minimum of 38 enemy lifeless have been credited to this Marine, many killed at arms size. The day was Oct. 24, 1942 and his identify was Gunnery Sgt. Basilone. For his actions he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Upon returning to the USA, this Raritan, N.J. native traveled throughout the nation on a conflict bond tour that prompted $1.four million in pledges. He met Hollywood starlets and his image even made the duvet of Life journal.

The Marine Corps provided to make him an officer and let him spend the remaining of the conflict in Washington, however he reportedly turned them down stating, “I’m a plain soldier, and I want to stay one.”

After his warfare bond tour, Gunnery Sgt. Basilone requested to be reassigned to a gunner unit with the 27th Marines. He might have continued to promote struggle bonds or he might have even stayed again within the states. However this man as an alternative selected to stay his life as a Marine.

So he stated farewell to his new spouse, Lena Riggi, and joined the Fifth Division. Staying behind, he advised buddies, can be “like being a museum piece.” And it wouldn’t appear proper, he stated, “if the Marines made a landing on the Manila waterfront and ‘Manila John’ wasn’t among them.”

On February 19, 1945, Basilone was once more in motion on the black sands of Iwo Jima on Pink Seashore II. Enemy gunfire pinned down his platoon. Everybody, that’s, however Basilone, who walked straight up, kicking butts and yelling, “Get off the beach! Move out,” he yelled on the gunners simply behind, hunkered low and straining underneath the heavy masses of weapons and ammunition amid the blistering hearth. Minutes later an enemy artillery spherical exploded, killing Gunnery Sgt. Basilone and 4 different members from his platoon. Instantly earlier than, he had single-handedly destroyed a Japanese blockhouse, permitting his unit to seize an airfield. On his outstretched left arm was a tattoo that learn “Death before Dishonor.” He was 27 years previous.

After World Struggle II, his physique was reburied with full army honors in Arlington Nationwide Cemetery and he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. A life-size bronze statue depicting him in battle gown and cradling a machine gun now watches over his hometown of Raritan.

Gunnery Sgt. Basilone, the person whom Gen. Douglas MacArthur referred to as “a one-man army,” turned the one man within the historical past of america awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, and the Purple Coronary heart.

John Basilone has been remembered in a spread of methods for his service and supreme sacrifice. In 1949 a destroyer, the USS Basilone was commissioned. The New Jersey Turnpike Bridge throughout the Raritan River is known as in his honor, as are quite a few American Legion and Marine Corps League Posts. Interstate 5 outdoors of Camp Pendleton has been renamed the John Basilone Memorial Freeway. A tribute to the warfare hero began in 1981 with “Basilone Day” and continues to be celebrated yearly in Raritan, N.J. on the final weekend in September.

Nevertheless, John Basilone by no means cared a lot for the celebrity that accompanied his Medal of Honor. The parades, the newsreel appearances, the starlets who held on his arm; he would a lot slightly, he insisted, be only a “plain Marine” like his buddies who have been nonetheless out within the Pacific. He advised his brother after becoming a member of the Marines that, “Without his Corps, his life meant nothing.”

By Mr. Ben Sherman

They have been forming the fifth Marine Division, and that’s once I met one of probably the most well-known Marines of all time, Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone,” former Marine Pfc. Gunner Johnson recalled

Basilone was the hero of the battle for Henderson Area on Guadalcanal in 1942. He was a piece chief on a defensive position with a number of machine gun squads underneath his command. He was credited with single handedly killing 38 Japanese troopers and saving the lives of the three wounded Marines. For his heroism he acquired the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, plus a Purple Coronary heart.

“They put him in 1st Battalion as the gunnery sergeant for Charley Company. I was in Baker Company, and we saw each other all the time while we were getting ready at Camp Tarawa in Hawaii for the invasion of Iwo Jima,” Johnson stated. “We were on the same LST (landing ship-troop) on Feb. 19, 1945, the day we went ashore at Iwo Jima. I asked Basilone, ‘What do you think it will be like?’ and he said ‘I don’t know for sure, but we’ll soon find out.’ He was right — it turned out to be hell on earth.”

Iwo Jima was a volcanic island coated with a gritty ash that hampered seashore landings and made digging foxholes almost unattainable. The Japanese fortified the island with heavy artillery positions, machine gun nests and sniper positions.

“Gunny Basilone went in on the first wave of the invasion. I was attached to 3rd Platoon of B Company and for some reason we went in on the second wave. Most Marines were young like me and hadn’t seen combat up to that point. We got pinned down on the beach by Japanese machine gun fire. Basilone was a battle-hardened Marine, so he got up and told everybody to get off their butts and move out, or they were going to die right there on the beach,” Johnson stated.

Basilone charged up the seashore and single handedly took out a Japanese blockhouse with grenades and a machine gun. Then he moved inland to Airfield 1 and helped information an American tank out of a minefield. When he obtained again to the airfield he and his machine gun crew have been critically wounded by shrapnel from a Japanese mortar spherical. Basilone died a pair hours later.

“Basilone had only been on the beach for two hours. A lot of us thought that if someone like him, who was larger than life didn’t make it, then we might not make it either. But we kept fighting,” Johnson stated solemnly.

“Our assignment was to work our way across the island and cut it in two so we could control the lower half. We went out every day in search of Japanese strongholds, but then we would come back to rest near the airfield, and then we’d go back up on the line,” Johnson stated.

“One day while we were getting ready to move out, Lt. Col. John Butler, our commander of the 1/27th Regiment, came by to check on us. He told us he was going up to the front going by jeep to look around. I thought to myself how stupid that was. We tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t change his mind. Unfortunately we were right, because a shell hit the jeep and killed Butler and wounded his driver and radioman.”

Johnson was wounded 21 days after he landed on the seashore. A mortar shell landed close to his machine gun squad, wounding him and 4 different males from his staff.

“I got hit on the evening of March 12 just three days before my 19th birthday. I was hit in the abdomen and side, and was lying in a foxhole waiting for a corpsman to come and help me. A couple of our guys came over to check on us and one of them, Pvt. Joe Perry, got hit in the throat by a Japanese sniper. The other Marine, Platoon Sgt. Joseph Julian, was killed instantly and fell on top of me in the foxhole,” Johnson stated.

The sniper had slipped in very near Johnson’s foxhole. He noticed the sniper and began yelling for assist, and another Marines began capturing machine weapons and throwing hand grenades.

“Then I really got scared that a grenade would bounce back into the hole where we were lying. Eventually they got the sniper and brought a jeep up there, loaded us all up and took us to a field hospital near the airfield,” Johnson stated.

TRANSCRIPT OF THE MOH CEREMONY: 

Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, of Raritan, New Jersey, was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his excellent heroism at Guadalcanal. Later, through the Iwo Jima marketing campaign, he was killed in motion on D-Day, 19 February 1945.

At Guadalcanal, the place he was serving with the first Battalion, seventh Marines, 1st Marine Division, he used a machine gun and a pistol to kill 38 of the enemy from his emplacement and earn the nation’s highest army ornament.

At Iwo Jima, GySgt Basilone once more distinguished himself, single-handedly destroying a Japanese blockhouse whereas braving smashing bombardment of enemy heavy caliber hearth. For his exploit he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. Whereas at Iwo Jima he was hooked up to the first Battalion, 27th Marines, fifth Marine Division.

Son of an Italian-born father, he spent almost six years within the U.S. Armed Forces, and was a sergeant on the time he was awarded the Medal of Honor. The quotation accompanying his Medal of Honor was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The story concerning the 38 Japanese our bodies comes from PFC Nash W. Phillips, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, who was in the identical unit with Sgt Basilone on Guadalcanal.

“Basilone had a machine gun on the go for three days and nights without sleep, rest or food,” PFC Phillips recounted. “He was in a good emplacement, and causing the Japs lots of trouble, not only firing his machine gun but also using his pistol.”

Gunnery Sergeant Basilone’s buddies on Guadalcanal referred to as him “Manila John” as a result of he had served with the Army within the Philippines earlier than enlisting within the Marine Corps.

He was one of a household of ten youngsters. Born in Buffalo, New York, on four November 1916, he went to St. Bernard Parochial Faculty in Raritan and enlisted within the Army on the age of 18. After finishing his three-year enlistment he got here house and went to work as a truck driver in Reisterstown, Maryland.

In July 1940 he enlisted within the Marine Corps in Baltimore, Maryland. Earlier than going to the Solomon Islands he noticed service at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, along with coaching on the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia; Parris Island, South Carolina; and New River (Later Camp Lejeune), North Carolina.

Following World Conflict II, GySgt Basilone’s stays have been reinterred within the Arlington Nationwide Cemetery, and in July 1949, the USS Basilone, a destroyer, was commissioned in his honor on the Boston Naval Shipyard.

 

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