The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
HENRY TALMAGE ELROD
for service as set forth in the following
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to Marine Fighting Squadron TWO HUNDRED ELEVEN (VMF-211), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Wake Island, during action against enemy Japanese land, surface and aerial units at Wake Island, 8 to 23 December 1941. Engaging vastly superior forces of enemy bombers and warships on 9 and 12 December, Captain Elrod shot down two of a flight of 22 hostile planes and, executing repeated bombing and strafing runs at extremely low altitude and close range, succeeded in inflicting deadly damage upon a large Japanese vessel, thereby sinking the first major warship to be destroyed by small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft. When his plane was disabled by hostile fire and no other ships were operative, Captain Elrod assumed command of one flank of the line set up in defiance of the enemy landing and, conducting a brilliant defense, enabled his men to hold their positions and repulse intense hostile fusillades to provide covering fire for unarmed ammunition carriers. Capturing an automatic weapon during one enemy rush in force, he gave his own firearm to one of his men and fought on vigorously against the Japanese. Responsible in a large measure for the strength of his sector’s gallant resistance, on 23 December, Captain Elrod led his men with bold aggressiveness until he fell, mortally wounded. His superb skill as a pilot, daring leadership and unswerving devotion to duty distinguished him among the defenders of Wake Island, and his valiant conduct reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Born: Sept. 27, 1905, Rebecca, Ga…. Attended the University of Georgia and Yale University prior to enlisting… Enlisted in 1927 and appointed to Second Lieutenant in 1931… Single-handedly attacked a flight of 22 aircraft, shooting down two… Became the first pilot to sink a warship – the Japanese destroyer Kisaragi – with small-caliber bombs from a fighter plane… Posthumously promoted to Major… Initially buried on Wake Island, but remains transferred to Arlington National Cemetery