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BASILONE-Marine Corps Legend & American Hero

Click to EnlargeA World War II Marine Corps hero, John Basilone was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Guadalcanal in October 1942. He and his men found themselves in a mismatch of epic proportions, defending their sector of the line against an elite Japanese regiment of 3,000 men. Twelve of the 15 were killed and two others wounded, but Basilone held out and fired away for three days from the only two remaining machine guns. By the battle's end, 200 Japanese lay dead around him. His Medal of Honor citation credited him with the "virtual annihilation" of the regiment. He was sent home, as was customary with medal winners, and put on a war bond tour with Hollywood starlets, then assigned to guard duty at the Washington Navy Yard. But the safe assignments depressed him. After turning down movie and boxing contracts, he pushed to be sent back into action. He got his wish and on February 19, 1945 on the black sand of Iwo Jima, Gunnery Sergeant Manila John Basilone once again distinguished himself in battle. He single-handedly destroyed an enemy blockhouse, allowing his unit to capture an airfield. It was during this battle that Manila John was killed by a bursting mortar shell. For his actions this day he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. He is the only enlisted Marine in WW II to receive the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, and the Purple Heart.

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