Valor Friday

| October 26, 2018

Gunnery Sergeant John BasiloneGunnery Sergeant John Basilone became a Marine Corps legend for his actions on Guadalcanal.

The Navy Times has recently started a weekly “Valor Friday” article to highlight the exceptional bravery demonstrated by our armed forces in conflicts around the globe.

Today’s VF is dedicated to Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, and his activities during the night of October 24, 1942, in the jungles of Guadalcanal.

Then-Sgt. Basilone was commanding two heavy .30-caliber machine gun sections from First Battalion, Seventh Marines, that were tasked with holding a narrow pass at the Tenaru River.

As the small crews of Marines dug in for the night, a Japanese regiment numbering 3,000 men attacked the line, hammering the Marines with grenades and mortar fire. Wave after wave were kept at bay by the small teams of Marines, until one of the gun crews was disabled by enemy fire.

Medal of Honor
Service: Marine Corps
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Division: 1st Marine Division


The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant John Manila John” Basilone (MCSN: 287506), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the First Battalion, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division in the Lunga Area. Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on the night of 24 – 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines’ defensive positions, Sergeant Basilone, in charge of two 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 Sergeant Basilone’s sections, with its guncrews, was put out of action, leaving only two 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, Sergeant 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.

On February 19, 1945, Basilone stormed Red Beach on Iwo Jima. Pinned down by enemy machine gun fire, he led his gunners up the steep black sand, kicking his inexperienced Marines to get off the beach as they hugged the ground for cover.

Minutes after destroying a Japanese blockhouse, Basilone and four members of his platoon were killed when an enemy artillery shell exploded. He was 28 years old.

Gunnery Sgt. Basilone would be posthumously awarded the the Purple Heart and the Navy Cross for his actions on Iwo.

Amazing. The only words I can add are, fair winds an following seas, Gunny.

Category: Marine Corps, The Warrior Code

Comments (23)

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  1. Mason says:

    His wife was also a Marine NCO. She christened the ship named for her legendary husband. As I recall the story, she never remarried.

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      “the only words I can add are”, Hey crappadick/Nike, this is what true sacrifice looks like. “she never remarried” Would imagine it would be hard for her to allow no man to go where this man had gone before. A true Marine’s Marine. Chesty Puller’s Hero.

      • AW1Ed says:

        The written word on blog posts are not the best vehicle to state one’s impressions. I stand in awe of Gunny Basilone’s heroic deeds, and wonder where such men come to be in the place and time where they were needed most.

        Perhaps my choice of words didn’t suit your fragile sensibilities, but I feel I show my deep respect for these heroes by posting their stories up in the first place.

        Seems I get generally positive replies to the FV posts, but if you can do better, feel free to post up your own thoughts.

        • 5th/77th FA says:

          Totally agree and no disrespect intended for your posts, which I thoroughly soak up and appreciate, or for the heroes themselves that you bring to us. My comment was geared toward a dig at assholes and companies that wouldn’t know true sacrifice if it bit them on the face. Keep up the good work. We all look forward to them.

  2. BlueCord Dad says:

    From Raritan New Jersey. OOORAH!

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      He was born in New York, moved from NJ to Maryland to take a job as a truck driver, enlisted in the Army while there, and he later married a beautiful woman in California. Yes, his hometown was in Jesrey but as soon as he had some say in where he lived, he got out of that place. (Yes, I hate Jersey this much.)

    • The Other Whitey says:

      I believe the city of Raritan has a statue of him. San Diego also has Piazza Basilone in Little Italy.

  3. IDC SARC says:


  4. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    There is likely no one at TAH who has not heard of this man. He is legendary. Perhaps more than his exemplary valor, there is a part of his story that gets to me more than any other. After he was awarded the CMOH and safe at home on the war-bond sales trail, he wanted only one thing: to return to his fellow Marines. He was refused, offered a commission, which he declined, and twice more requested that he be permitted to rejoin his fellow Marines at war. Ultimately, his request was granted and he returned to his brothers in the Pacific.

    • SGT K says:

      Plus, he was awarded a Navy Cross posthumously for his actions on Iwo Jima. (And the abbreviation for the Medal of Honor is MoH. No “C” included.)

      • 2/17 Air Cav says:

        The US Code refers both to the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Medal of Honor. There is a Congressional Medal of Honor Society and a Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. There is no officially designated abbreviation for the Medal Of Honor or the Congressional Medal of Honor.

      • Poetrooper says:

        Sgt K, this from Wikipedia:

        “The Medal of Honor is the United States of America’s highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor.[5] The medal is normally awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress. Because the medal is presented “in the name of Congress”, it is often referred to informally as the “Congressional Medal of Honor”. However, the official name of the current award is “Medal of Honor.”[1][6] Within United States Code the medal is referred to as the “Medal of Honor”,[7] and less frequently as “Congressional Medal of Honor”.[8] U.S. awards, including the Medal of Honor, do not have post-nominal titles, and while there is no official abbreviation, the most common abbreviations are “MOH” and “MH”.”

        • 2/17 Air Cav says:

          PT. This Wiki entry is misleading: “Within United States Code the medal is referred to as the ‘“Medal of Honor,”'[7] and less frequently as ‘“Congressional Medal of Honor”.”‘ In point of fact, the US Code refers to both the Medal of Honor and the Congressional Medal of Honor PERIOD. Also, in the code, where Medal of Honor appears, it is written, “Medal of honor,” with a lower-case h.

    • Poetrooper says:

      Cav, I’d have paid money to see a burly, Jersey truck driver with the MoH in the officers’ mess or at the bar in an O Club. Especially back in those days when there was such a defined class distinction between officers and enlisted.

  5. IDC SARC says:

    Every bruise I ever got on DZ Basilone was an honor and a privilege. 🙂

  6. NHSparky says:

    Also consider that he was the one who, by necessity, came up with the carry handle for the .30 cal, having received third-degree burns when trying to carry the machine gun to new positions while on Guadalcanal.

  7. 2banana says:

    I love his famous pic above.

    Compare/contrast to the hero pajama boy and SJW pics of the left today…

  8. AnotherPat says:

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Ed, for posting this.

  9. HMC Ret says:

    I am humbled by men and women such as this.

  10. Sparks says:

    Rest in peace Brother. All gave some, you gave all. You are never forgotten.