World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Known as "Manila John", he was one of the first Marines to be awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II. On Sunday night October 25th, 1942, at Lunga Ridge on Guadalcanal, about 1,000 yards south of Henderson Field, Japanese troops attacked. One of the Marine section leaders facing them was Sergeant Basilone. Basilone stayed with his men, repairing guns and changing barrels in almost total darkness, while giving encouragment to his men. One section of guns were overrun. Two men killed, three others wounded. Basilone took one of his guns on his back and raced for the breach in the line. Eight Japanese were surprised and killed. The guns were jammed by mud and water and a few yards away the Japanese were forming for another charge. Frantically stripping mud from the ammo belts men fed them into the guns as Basilone cleared jams and sprayed troops rushing at his positions with fixed bayonets and hand grenades. At 0300 a final Banzai charge took place. The full weight of the fanatical Japanese fell on Basilone and his men. He had set up a cross fire which smashed the charge. At least 38 dead Japanese were credited to Sergeant Basilone -- many killed with his Colt .45. Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was killed leading his heavy machine gun squad off the beach on Iwo Jima on February 19th, 1945. He had just helped destroy an enemy blockhouse before he was hit by a mortar shell. He was the only Marine to be awarded both The Medal Of Honor and The Navy Cross during World War II. "Basilone Road" in Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California was named after him as well as the "Sgt. John Basilone Memorial Bridge" on the New Jersey Turnpike in East Brunswick, New Jersey. His citation reads "For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Lunga Area. Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines' defensive positions, Sgt. Basilone, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machineguns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. Basilone's sections, with its guncrews, was put out of action, leaving only 2 men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived. A little later, with ammunition critically low and the supply lines cut off, Sgt. Basilone, at great risk of his life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service". The United States Naval service launched the destroyer "USS Basilone" (DDE/DD-824), named in his honor, in December 1945. It served from 1945 until 1977, when it was stricken from the Naval lists with a total of 32 years in service. (bio by: Frank Russo)
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Sgt. Basilone married his precious Lena at St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Oceanside. He turned down a Commission and a Training position in the US after earning his CMOH to return to combat. God Bless Sgt. Basilone and Lena, reunited. -
Added: Apr. 30, 2016