Legacy of John Basilone

Every Marine in our Corps knows of the deeds John Basilone.  His story echoes throughout Marine history.  It is one told time and time again.  When a Marine recruit encounters The Crucible an obstacle that must be completed is Basilone’s Challenge.  During this course the recruit runs up and down a hill with 30lb ammo cans.  Their objective is to “resupply” the notional Marines at the top of the hill.  The course is constructed to give recruits a taste of what John Basilone had to go through to receive his Medal of Honor.


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Marine Corps recruits tackle Basilone’s Challenge

Medal of Honor Citation for John Basilone

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 gun-crews, 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.  (Congressional Medal of Honor Society)


 

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Marines stand at the position of attention beside the memorial of GySgt John Basilone

John Basilone and the War Effort

Marines know of GySgt Basilone’s heroic deeds.  However, the Marines today were not alive to see the affect he had on the war.  During WWII the US was in state of “total war.” During total war a country gears all resources of society to the war effort.  The United States needed a face to the war in the Pacific, a hero for citizens to rally behind.  They naturally found that in US Marine, John Basilone.

In the time period of the 1940’s the average citizen idolized war heroes.  Unlike today were actors and musicians are idolized.  In the 1940’s actors and musicians then reflected the selflessness and valor of our military.


John Basilone and Guadalcanal

Guadalcanal was the first major battle in the Pacific War.  The Empire of Japan saw this as an important base of operations.  By securing Guadalcanal the Japanese could move on to attack Australia.  For the first time in the war Australia’s survival was in jeopardy.  The United States quickly moved in to action by landing 11,000 US Marines on the island.  Sgt. John Basilone of “Dog” Company 1/7 was one of them.

The US Navy supported the Marines in the surrounding waters of the island.  That soon changed as the Japanese Navy hammered their position with naval gunfire.  The US Navy lost two Light Cruisers and seven Destroyers in the 3 day battle.  Facing a larger fleet, the US Navy evacuated to escape annihilation.

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The Marines found themselves cut off.  They lost access to ammunition, medical supplies, food, and naval artillery support.  Marines began to dig in to get a better tactical assessment.  They were constantly harassed by Japanese naval and air attacks.  The main objective was the Henderson Airfield.  During an engagement that took place there on 24 October, John Basilone would earn the Medal of Honor.

Sgt John Basilone commanded two Machine-Gun sections.  They were emplaced in a defensive position surrounding Henderson Airfield.  The Japanese Sendai Division attacked with a combined strength of 3,000.  The Medal of Honor Citation explains his actions and I will not deviate.  However, a quote from his fellow Marine explains it all.

Basilone had the Machine-Gun for three days and nights without sleep, rest, or food.  He was in a good emplacement and causing the Japanese lots of trouble.  Not only using his Machine-Gun but also his pistol.

 


John Basilone’s Warrior Legacy

The battle of Guadalcanal ended and John Basilone received the Medal of Honor.  He was flown back home to the US to sell war-bonds.  The limelight made Basilone uneasy.  GySgt Basilone wanted to return to his unit.  Like a true warrior he could not stand the separation.  At his request he was forward deployed.  GySgt Basilone took part in the landings at Iwo Jima.  He was unfortunately killed on Iwo Jima.  John Basilone received a Navy Cross for his actions on the island.

GySgt Basilone is the epitome of Courage, Honor, and Commitment.  Marines today carry on his legacy.  We see the stories of legendary Marines like this and know that we have large boots to fill.  His actions are an inspiration to all Marines.  As a Machine-Gunner he effectively completed his mission.  Sending hordes and hordes of Japanese home in a box.   Without the bravery of Marines like this WWII may have ended differently.

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Machine-Gunner 0331 Marine Corps MOS Coin

The legend and technical skill of GySgt Basilone is renown.  As a Machine-Gunner and as a Marine.  Devil Dog Shirts is proud to honor this Marine by unveiling our new 0331 MOS Coin!  US Marine Machine-Gunners are truly legends in our Corps!