Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone (1916-1945) was awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in combat at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, in October 1942. During brutal fighting with heavy casualties on both sides, he killed at least 38 Japanese soldiers. He returned home to a hero's welcome, including a parade featured in "Life" magazine. But he requested to return to combat, stating that he was just "a plain soldier" who belonged with his unit. On February 19, 1945, Basilone was killed in action leading an assault off the beaches of Iwo Jima. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the only enlisted Marine to be honored with both the Navy Cross and the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor citation:
"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 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 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."