Colonel Justice M. Chambers Medal of Honor

In the bloodiest battle in Marine Corps history, 27 Marines and sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for action on Iwo Jima. No other campaign surpassed that number.

Justice Chambers was a lawyer and a Major in the Marine Corps Reserve when his battalion was called up in 1940. Serving first with the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, the then Lieutenant Colonel Chambers was awarded a Silver Star for evacuating wounded and coordinating the overnight defense of a battalion aid station on Tulagi, where he was one of the wounded himself. Chambers was awarded the Legion of Merit with a Combat V for his leadership of Marines through the Roi-Namur, Saipan, and Tinian campaigns.

Commanding the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, Chambers landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. Landing beneath high ground where dug-in enemy troops could rake the whole beach with fire, Chambers’ unit was tasked with capturing the high ground. On D-Day alone the 3rd Battalion lost over half of its officers and men, but with Chambers’ excellent leadership and combat experience, they secured the high ground. On February 22, Chambers was hit by enemy machinegun fire. He survived his wounds, but could not return to combat. For his exemplary leadership on Iwo Jima, Chambers was initially awarded the Navy Cross. The original recommendation was later reviewed, and the award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor Citation for Colonel Justice M. Chambers

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the 3d Assault Battalion Landing Team, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 to 22 February 1945. Under a furious barrage of enemy machinegun and small-arms fire from the commanding cliffs on the right, Col. Chambers (then Lt. Col.) landed immediately after the initial assault waves of his battalion on D-day to find the momentum of the assault threatened by heavy casualties from withering Japanese artillery, mortar rocket, machinegun, and rifle fire. Exposed to relentless hostile fire, he coolly reorganized his battle-weary men, inspiring them to heroic efforts by his own valor and leading them in an attack on the critical, impregnable high ground from which the enemy was pouring an increasing volume of fire directly onto troops ashore as well as amphibious craft in succeeding waves. Constantly in the front lines encouraging his men to push forward against the enemy’s savage resistance, Col. Chambers led the 8-hour battle to carry the flanking ridge top and reduce the enemy’s fields of aimed fire, thus protecting the vital foothold gained. In constant defiance of hostile fire while reconnoitering the entire regimental combat team zone of action, he maintained contact with adjacent units and forwarded vital information to the regimental commander. His zealous fighting spirit undiminished despite terrific casualties and the loss of most of his key officers, he again reorganized his troops for renewed attack against the enemy’s main line of resistance and was directing the fire of the rocket platoon when he fell, critically wounded. Evacuated under heavy Japanese fire, Col. Chambers, by forceful leadership, courage, and fortitude in the face of staggering odds, was directly instrumental in insuring the success of subsequent operations of the 5th Amphibious Corps on Iwo Jima, thereby sustaining and enhancing the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”


Kali Martin

Kali Martin earned a bachelor's degree in International Studies and German at the University of Miami and a master's degree in Military a...
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