Deeply regret to inform you that Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, USMC, was killed in action February 19, 1945 at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, in the performance of his duty and service to his country. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy… General Alexander Vandegrift


Hero of the Pacific : the life of Marine legend John Basilone  James Brady  Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley, c 2010  Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing.  x, 254 p. : ill., maps, ports. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 241-242) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines' defensive positions, Sergeant Basilone, in charge of two sections of heavy machine guns, 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 gun crews, 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 United States Naval Service.

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 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines’ defensive positions, Sergeant Basilone, in charge of two sections of heavy machine guns, 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 gun crews, 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 United States Naval Service.

In September 1942 Sgt. Basilone landed on the southern Pacific island of Guadalcanal to participate in the ongoing campaign to hold the airfield there against Japanese attempts to recapture it. On the night of 24-25 October 1942, during a vigorous enemy assault on the Marines’ defensive perimeter, he was responsible for a section of machine guns. His “extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry” in keeping his guns in action in the face of heavy attacks contributed greatly to the failure of the Japanese offensive and was recognized by the award of the Medal of Honor.

From the summer of 1943 to early 1945, John Basilone was one of the most famous and admired people in America. As the first enlisted man to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II, for extraordinary bravery under fire at Guadalcanal, he toured the nation with movie stars, shared podiums with mayors and governors, shook the hands of thousands of citizens, and was even rumored to have made a romantic connection with a beautiful young actress.

Why would a man who had proven his courage beyond any doubt, who had gone above and beyond the call of duty, and was reaping the rewards of his sacrifice beg his commanding officers to break with tradition and send a Medal of Honor winner back into combat? Columnist James Brady explores this and many other puzzling questions in this thrilling and surprising biography.

The destroyer USS Basilone (DDE-824) was named in honor of Gunnery Sergeant Basilone pictured here underway at sea Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

The destroyer USS Basilone (DDE-824) was named in honor of Gunnery Sergeant Basilone pictured here underway at sea Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Hero of the Pacific tells the dramatic and compelling life story of a small-town boy who became one of World War II’s greatest and best-known heroes, only to be forgotten after his death during another famous and hellish battle on Iwo Jima. You may never have heard of John Basilone, but once you read this powerful tale, you’ll never forget him.

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