First Lieutenant Harry L. Martin's 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.

Harry Martin was a member of the Ohio National Guard when  he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps in 1943. After completing Engineers School, Martin was designated an Engineer Officer and assigned to the engineering regiment of the 5th Marine Division. Martin landed on February 19, 1945, and was slightly wounded that day. He continued to fight until the final day of the campaign, March 26, 1945. Early that morning the remaining Japanese forces launched one final, desperate attack. Martin organized the men in his bivouac area, temporarily halting the Japanese advancement. As the Japanese began to break through the lines later in the morning, Martin led a charge into the oncoming enemy forces, fighting tenaciously until he was mortally wounded by a grenade. First Lieutenant Harry Martin was 34 years old.


Medal of Honor Citation 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as platoon leader attached to Company C, 5th Pioneer Battalion, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 26 March 1945. With his sector of the 5th Pioneer Battalion bivouac area penetrated by a concentrated enemy attack launched a few minutes before dawn, 1st Lt. Martin instantly organized a firing line with the marines nearest his foxhole and succeeded in checking momentarily the headlong rush of the Japanese. Determined to rescue several of his men trapped in positions overrun by the enemy, he defied intense hostile fire to work his way through the Japanese to the surrounded marines. Although sustaining 2 severe wounds, he blasted the Japanese who attempted to intercept him, located his beleaguered men and directed them to their own lines. When 4 of the infiltrating enemy took possession of an abandoned machinegun pit and subjected his sector to a barrage of hand grenades, 1st Lt. Martin, alone and armed only with a pistol, boldly charged the hostile position and killed all of its occupants. Realizing that his few remaining comrades could not repulse another organized attack, he called to his men to follow and then charged into the midst of the strong enemy force, firing his weapon and scattering them until he fell, mortally wounded by a grenade. By his outstanding valor, indomitable fighting spirit and tenacious determination in the face of overwhelming odds, 1st Lt. Martin permanently disrupted a coordinated Japanese attack and prevented a greater loss of life in his own and adjacent platoons. His inspiring leadership and unswerving devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.”


Medal of Honor Series

Read Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Jack Williams' story next. He received a Medal of Honor for his actions on March 3, 1945. 

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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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