The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
PHARMACIST’S MATE FIRST CLASS
JOHN HARLAN WILLIS
for service as set forth in the following
For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John Harlan Willis, United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Platoon Corpsman serving with the Third Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Marines, FIFTH Marine Division, during operations against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 28 February 1945. Constantly imperiled by artillery and mortar fire from strong and mutually supporting pillboxes and caves studding Hill 362 in the enemy’s cross-island defenses, Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Willis resolutely administered first aid to the many Marines wounded during the furious close-in fighting until he himself was struck by shrapnel and was ordered back to the battle-aid station. Without waiting for official medical release, he quickly returned to his company and, during a savage hand-to-hand enemy counterattack, daringly advanced to the extreme frontlines under mortar and sniper fire to aid a Marine lying wounded in a shellhole. Completely unmindful of his own danger as the Japanese intensified their attack, Willis calmly continued to administer blood plasma to his patient, promptly returning the first hostile grenade which landed in the shell-hole while he was working and hurling back seven more in quick succession before the ninth one exploded in his hand and instantly killed him. By his great personal valor in saving others at the sacrifice of his own life, Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Willis inspired his companions, although terrifically outnumbered, to launch a fiercely determined attack and repulse the enemy force. His exceptional fortitude and courage in the performance of duty reflect the highest credit upon Willis and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
CHARLES HENRY COOLIDGE
for service as set forth in the following
For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Technical Sergeant Charles Henry Coolidge, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty on October 24 – 27, 1944, while serving with Company M, 3d Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, in action at East of Belmont sur Buttant, France. Leading a section of heavy machineguns supported by one platoon of Company K, Technical Sergeant Coolidge took a position near Hill 623, east of Belmont sur Buttant, France, on 24 October 1944, with the mission of covering the right flank of the 3d Battalion and supporting its action. Technical Sergeant Coolidge went forward with a sergeant of Company K to reconnoiter positions for coordinating the fires of the light and heavy machineguns. They ran into an enemy force in the woods estimated to be an infantry company. Technical Sergeant Coolidge, attempting to bluff the Germans by a show of assurance and boldness called upon them to surrender, whereupon the enemy opened fire. With his carbine, Technical Sergeant Coolidge wounded two of them. There being no officer present with the force, Technical Sergeant Coolidge at once assumed command. Many of the men were replacements recently arrived; this was their first experience under fire. Technical Sergeant Coolidge, unmindful of the enemy fire delivered at close range, walked along the position, calming and encouraging his men and directing their fire. The attack was thrown back. Through 25 and 26 October the enemy launched repeated attacks against the position of this combat group but each was repulsed due to Technical Sergeant Coolidge’s able leadership. On 27 October, German infantry, supported by two tanks, made a determined attack on the position. The area was swept by enemy small arms, machinegun, and tank fire. Technical Sergeant Coolidge armed himself with a bazooka and advanced to within 25 yards of the tanks. His bazooka failed to function and he threw it aside. Securing all the hand grenades he could carry, he crawled forward and inflicted heavy casualties on the advancing enemy. Finally it became apparent that the enemy, in greatly superior force, supported by tanks, would overrun the position. Technical Sergeant Coolidge, displaying great coolness and courage, directed and conducted an orderly withdrawal, being himself the last to leave the position. As a result of Technical Sergeant Coolidge’s heroic and superior leadership, the mission of this combat group was accomplished throughout four days of continuous fighting against numerically superior enemy troops in rain and cold and amid dense woods.
Born: Aug. 4, 1921, Signal Mountain, Tenn.… Presented Medal of Honor by XV Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Wade H. Haislip on June 18, 1945 at an airflield near Dornstadt, Germany… Also awarded the French Légion d’honneur in 2006