Private First Class William R. Caddy'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.

Quincy, Massachusetts native William Robert Caddy left high school after his second year and was working as an assistant on a milk truck when he was drafted in October 1943. Caddy was assigned to the 5th Marine Division for the landing on Iwo Jima. As a rifleman, Caddy landed on February 19, 1945, against fierce opposition. By March 3, Caddy was still in the fight in an isolated sector of the island. Along with his platoon leader and another Marine, Caddy was pinned down in a shell hole by a Japanese sniper. After attempting to move forward, Caddy and his platoon leader became engaged in a grenade battle with Japanese soldiers, holding their own until a grenade landed in their hole. Without hesitation, Caddy threw himself upon the grenade. Private First Class William Caddy was 19 years old.

Medal of Honor Citation for Private First Class William R. Caddy

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman with Company 1, 3d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 3 March 1945. Consistently aggressive, Pfc. Caddy boldly defied shattering Japanese machinegun and small arms fire to move forward with his platoon leader and another marine during the determined advance of his company through an isolated sector and, gaining the comparative safety of a shell hole, took temporary cover with his comrades. Immediately pinned down by deadly sniper fire from a well-concealed position, he made several unsuccessful attempts to again move forward and then, joined by his platoon leader, engaged the enemy in a fierce exchange of hand grenades until a Japanese grenade fell beyond reach in the shell hole. Fearlessly disregarding all personal danger, Pfc. Caddy instantly dived on the deadly missile, absorbing the exploding charge in his own body and protecting the others from serious injury. Stouthearted and indomitable, he unhesitatingly yielded his own life that his fellow marines might carry on the relentless battle against a fanatic enemy. His dauntless courage and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Caddy and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his comrades.”


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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