William Harrell was a Texas native who attended Texas A&M University until the spring of 1941, when he dropped out in order to save money to finish school. With the outbreak of the war, Harrell put his education on hold and joined the US Marine Corps in July 1941. Harrell did not see combat until he landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945 with the 5th Marine Division. On March 3, Harrell, by then a sergeant, was in an outpost foxhole with Private First Class Andrew J. Carter. The two men were taking turns on watch, and Harrell was asleep when Carter alerted him to Japanese incoming. Harrell shot two of them, but Carter’s weapon jammed, and he was forced to return to the line for another. When he returned, Carter found Harrell severely wounded, his left hand blown apart by a Japanese grenade. Harrell and Carter continued to fight off the oncoming Japanese until Harrell sent Carter back to line. He expected to die alone, both hands lost to grenades. When his fellow Marines came for him in the morning, he was still alive, with a dozen enemy dead lying near his foxhole.