Francis Pierce turned 17 on December 7, 1941, the day Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. With his parents’ permission, Pierce joined the US Navy the next week. After training to become a corpsman, Pierce was assigned to the 4th Marine Division. When Pierce landed on Iwo Jima, he was a seasoned combat veteran, having cared for the wounded during the Saipan and Tinian campaigns, amongst others.
Over the course of two days (March 15-16, 1945) Pierce repeatedly put himself in the line of fire to draw attention away from wounded Marines. Although corpsmen were traditionally unarmed combatants, they were allowed weapons in order to defend the wounded. Shirking this “restriction,” Pierce repeatedly engaged the enemy. On the 16th, he led a patrol to knock out a sniper’s nest, was seriously wounded, but waived off treatment for himself so that he could cover wounded Marines with protective firepower as they were treated and evacuated. Over those two days, Pierce went above and beyond the call of duty many times.