John Basilone is a Marine Corps legend. During the fighting on Guadalcanal in October 1942, Basilone’s actions would result in him being awarded the Medal of Honor. He was sent home to sell War Bonds but asked to be returned to the war. He was killed in action on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. Basilone was the only enlisted Marine during WWII to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, and the Purple Heart.
Basilone was born in his parents’ home in Buffalo, NY on November 4, 1916, the sixth of 10 children. He was just two years old the family moved to Raritan, NJ. He dropped out of high school to go to work during the Depression.
Basilone joined the Army in July 1934 serving in the Philippines where he was a champion boxer. After his three-year hitch was up, he returned to the United States and was a truck driver in Maryland. But he itched to return to the Philippines and thought he could get there quicker by joining the Marines rather than the Army. Although he joined the Marines in 1940, unfortunately for him, he’d never get back to the Philippines.
After his recruit training at Parris Island, Basilone trained at Quantico, VA, and New River, NC before shipping out to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After the U.S.’s entry into World War II, Basilone went to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, as a member of “D” Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division.