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PFC Donald Jack Ruhl
Birth: Jul. 2, 1923
Stillwater County
Montana, USA
Death: Feb. 21, 1945

World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Born in Columbus, Montana, he was educated in the grammar schools of Columbus, and graduated from high school at Joliet, Montana, in 1942. During his High School years, he worked as a general farm hand on a 400-acre farm for $15 a week, room and board. The farm was ran with no mechanical machines, so it was here that he gained physical strength and endurance that would help him with his training in the Marine Corp. Just before his graduation from High school in the spring of 1942 he went to work for the Independent Refining Company of Laurel as a laboratory assistant for $32 a week. His relaxation time found him hunting small game with his 12-gauge shotgun. Donald Ruhl enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on September 12, 1942, at Butte, Montana, and went on active duty the same day. Transferred to the recruit depot at San Diego, California, it was during boot camp that he scored 224 on the firing range, qualifying him as a sharpshooter. He also made grade as a "combat swimmer." The five feet, eleven, 147-pound Ruhl was a gifted athlete who boxed in recruit matches and also excelled at baseball, basketball, and swimming. After completion of boot camp in November, he was transferred to Company B, Parachute Training School, San Diego. At the conclusion of the five-week course, he qualified as a parachutist and was promoted to private first class on December 19, 1942. He then joined Company C, 3d Parachute Battalion of the 3rd Marine Division at Camp Elliott, San Diego. He embarked for overseas on board the “USS Mount Vernon” on March 12, 1943, as a 60-millimeter mortar crewman. His destination was New Caledonia, which was to be a training base for the Parachute Marines. After six months of intense training, his unit sailed for Guadalcanal on board the “USS American Legion” in September, 1943. In October of 1943, his unit, which was now Company L, 3d Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Parachute Regiment, I Marine Amphibious Corps, boarded ship and moved on to the newly won Vella LaVella Island in the Southern Solomon's. After two and one half months, he moved on to Bougainville Island where he saw his first combat. In January of 1944 he briefly returned to Guadalcanal. He then sailed for the United States aboard the United States Army Transport “USS David C. Shanks”. Arriving in San Diego on February 14, he was transferred to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines of the fledgling 5th Marine Division when the Parachute units were disbanded on February 21, 1944. He left the United States for the final time on September 19, 1944. In January, 1945, he was transferred aboard the “USS Missoula” where his regiment made a series of brief stops, Honolulu, Maui, and Eniwetok, and finally Saipan in February. It was at Saipan that he changed over to the “USS LST 481”, which was designated to take the Marines to Iwo Jima. February 19, 1945, which was D-Day at Iwo Jima. On that day, Don Ruhl single-handedly attacked a group of eight Japanese who had been driven from a blockhouse. After killing one with his bayonet, he killed another with rifle fire from his M-1 Garand before the rest fled. Early the next morning he left the safety of a tank trap, moving out under heavy mortar and machine gun fire to rescue a wounded Marine lying in an exposed position about forty yards forward of his perimeter. Half carrying and half pulling the wounded man. Ruhl removed him to a position out of reach of enemy rifles. After calling for an assistant and a stretcher, he helped carry the casualty 300 yards back to an aid station on the beach, again braving heavy fire. exhausted from the ordeal, he non the less returned to his outfit where he volunteered to investigate an apparently abandoned Japanese gun emplacement seventy-five yards forward of the right flank. He eventually occupied the position through the night thus preventing the enemy from retaking the weapon. On the morning of February 20, 1945, Company E of the 28th Marines pushed forward in an assault against a vast network of fortifications surrounding the base of Mt. Suribachi. It was during this advance that PFC Ruhl, with his platoon guide, crawled to the top of a Japanese bunker to bring fire to bear on enemy troops located on the far side of the bunker. Without warning, an enemy grenade landed between the two Marines. Calling a warning to his senior noncommissioned officer, he instantly dived upon the grenade and absorbed the full charge of the explosion into his own body. He was killed almost instantly. His action not only saved his companion but also prevented the grenade fragments from flying and wounding other nearby Marines. Amazingly, his position on the edge of the bunker would have made it an easy matter for him to drop down into a more protected spot had if he so desired. Two days later Company E raised the American flag on the top of Mount Surbachi. The heroic actions and the death of PFC. Ruhl were directly responsible for the placing of the American Flag on Mt. Suribachi by his comrades. His Medal of Honor was posthumously presented to his parents on January 12, 1947 at Greybull, Wyoming, where they made their home. The ceremonies were conducted by the veteran's organization of Greybull. Originally buried in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima, he was later reinterred in Hillside Cemetery in Greybull, Wyoming. His citation reads “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman in an assault platoon of Company E, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 to 21 February 1945. Quick to press the advantage after 8 Japanese had been driven from a blockhouse on D-day, Pfc. Ruhl single-handedly attacked the group, killing 1 of the enemy with his bayonet and another by rifle fire in his determined attempt to annihilate the escaping troops. Cool and undaunted as the fury of hostile resistance steadily increased throughout the night, he voluntarily left the shelter of his tank trap early in the morning of D-day plus 1 and moved out under a tremendous volume of mortar and machinegun fire to rescue a wounded marine lying in an exposed position approximately 40 yards forward of the line. Half pulling and half carrying the wounded man, he removed him to a defiladed position, called for an assistant and a stretcher and, again running the gauntlet of hostile fire, carried the casualty to an aid station some 300 yards distant on the beach. Returning to his platoon, he continued his valiant efforts, volunteering to investigate and apparently abandoned Japanese gun emplacement 75 yards forward of the right flank during consolidation of the front lines, and subsequently occupying the position through the night to prevent the enemy from repossessing the valuable weapon. Pushing forward in the assault against the vast network of fortifications surrounding Mt. Suribachi the following morning, he crawled with his platoon guide to the top of a Japanese bunker to bring fire to bear on enemy troops located on the far side of the bunker. Suddenly a hostile grenade landed between the 2 marines. Instantly Pfc. Ruhl called a warning to his fellow marine and dived on the deadly missile, absorbing the full impact of the shattering explosion in his own body and protecting all within range from the danger of flying fragments although he might easily have dropped from his position on the edge of the bunker to the ground below. An indomitable fighter, Pfc. Ruhl rendered heroic service toward the defeat of a ruthless enemy, and his valor, initiative and unfaltering spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country”. (bio by: Frank Russo) 
Donald J. Ruhl Memorial Cemetery
Big Horn County
Wyoming, USA
GPS (lat/lon): 44.49749, 108.07307
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Frank Russo
Record added: Sep 15, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 7870717
PFC Donald Jack Ruhl
Added by: Ron Moody
PFC Donald Jack Ruhl
Added by: Don Morfe
PFC Donald Jack Ruhl
Cemetery Photo
Added by: E. Saunders
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