On the night of October 24, 1942, the weapons man of the hour was
"Manila John" Basilone, the platoon sergeant of the heavy .30-caliber 
machine-gun platoon attached to Co. C, 7th Marines, 1stMarDiv.
  Basilone was everywhere at once, clearing jams, calming nervous 
gunners, replacing parts, and repositioning guns.  John Basilone 
inspired all who saw him that night:  he became the glue that bound 
Co. C together, and for that he earned the Medal of Honor
 
   October on Guadalcanal by Eric Hammel...Leatherneck Oct 1992
But newspapers and radio told millions of another D-Day loss
[on Iwo Jima] - Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone. Already a Marine Corps 
legend as the first Leatherneck to be awarded the Medal of Honor in 
World War II, "Manila John" was leading his machine gun platoon through 
the fury of Red Beach II when a mortar cut him down.

    In 1942, on a black October night in the steaming jungles of 
Guadalcanal, Basilone had single-handedly wiped out a company of 
Japanese trying to overrun his position on the Tenaru River.  With a 
Colt .45 pistol and two machine guns - one cradled in his arms after the 
other was knocked out - he stopped a screaming banzai attack and held 
out until dawn, when reinforcements came up.  Nearly a hundred sprawled 
enemy dead were around his cut-off outpost.

    Basilone was dark complexioned and handsome, had big ears like Clark 
Cable, and a wide grin.  His Italian parents beamed with pride on a very 
special afternoon in 1943 when 30,000 well-wishers honored him at a gala 
celebration on the 2,000-acre estate of tobacco heiress Doris Duke near 
Raritan, New Jersey, his hometown.

    "Manila John" blushed when photographers snapped his picture while 
being kissed by a Hollywood starlet, smiled broadly when an oil portrait 
was unveiled in the tiny brick town hall, and was shyly grateful for the 
$5,000 was bond neighbors gave him.  He turned down the bars of a second 
lieutenant.  "I'm a plain soldier," he said, "and I want to stay one."  
From earliest memory, Basilone had wanted to be a professional fighting 
man.  He had done a hitch in the Army before joining the Marines in 
1940, and had served in the Philippines - hence his nickname.

    To millions, Basilone was a hero, one of the first of the war, and 
could have remained stateside training troops and selling was bonds.  
Instead, he said farewell to his new wife, also a Marine, and joined the 
Fifth Division.  Staying behind, he told buddies, would be "like being a 
museum piece."  And it wouldn't seem right, he said "if the Marines made 
a landing on the Manila waterfront and 'Manila John' wasn't among them."

    Now, with the invasion ninety minutes old, the intrepid sergeant had 
one thought. "C'mon, you guys! Let's get these guns off the beach!" he 
yelled at the gunners just behind, backs hunkered low and straining 
under the heavy loads of weapons and ammunition amid the blistering 
fire.  The wasplike whir of an incoming mortar sounded its eerie 
warning; then a shattering blast.

    Basilone lunged forward in midstride, arms flung outward over his 
head.  He and four comrades died in that instant.  On his outstretched 
left arm was a tattoo: "Death before Dishonor!" 'Manila John" wouldn't 
see Dewey Boulevard again, but he had won the Navy Cross, The Marine 
Corps' second highest decoration for valor. 

    IWO JIMA - Legacy of Valor by Bill D. Ross

 

The above war bond flyer, pictures, and mementos were found in a box given to me by my grandmother. John Basilone was an Italian-American from New Jersey. The accompaning citation says it all.
GySgt John Basilone was killed in February, 1945 during the assault of Iwo Jima.
John Basilone Memorial Parade - Raritan NJ
Guadalcanal Diary
World War II Medal of Honor Recipients
Map of Guadalcanal Action (234k)
My Dad, his brother, and cousins in John Basilone's jeep at the war bond rally, 7 Dec 1943, in New Windsor, NY