The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps Reserve
Harold Epperson



Private First Class Harold G. Epperson
United States Marine Corps Reserve

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the FirstBattalion, Sixth Marines, Second Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Saipan the Marianas, on 25 June 1944. With his machine-gun emplacement bearing the full brunt of a fanatic assault initiated by the Japanese under cover of pre-dawn darkness, aggressiveness, fighting furiously in defense of his battalion's position and maintaining a steady stream of devastating fire against rapidly infiltrating hostile troops to aid materially in annihilating several of the enemy and in breaking the abortive attack. Suddenly a Japanese soldier, assumed to be dead, sprang up and hurled a powerful hand grenade into the emplacement. Determined to save his comrades, Private First Class Epperson unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and, diving upon the deadly missile, absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his body. Stouthearted and indomitable in the face of certain death, Private First Class Epperson Fearlessly yielded his own life that his able comrades might carry on the relentless battle against a ruthless enemy, and his superb valor and unfaltering devotion to duty throughout reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

President of the United States

The Medal of Honor--America's highest military award--awarded posthumously to Private First Class Harold Glenn Epperson, was presented to his mother at rites Wednesday, 4 July 1945 in Tiger Stadium, Massillon, Ohio. PFC Epperson lost his life in action against the Japanese on Saipan on 25 June 1944 when he threw himself upon an enemy grenade in order to save the lives of his fellow Marines.

The setting of the presentation was appropriate--the stadium, the Massillon High School Band and 8,500 of the townspeople among whom the 20-year-old hero spent his childhood and youth before entering military service.

The Medal of Honor was presented to PFC Epperson's mother by Col Norman E. True, district Marine officer of the 9th Naval District and commanding officer of the Marine Barracks at Great Lakes, Illinois. PFC Epperson's parents, who moved to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, following their son's death, elected to return to Massillon for the ceremonies because they felt their son "would have liked it that way." The citation signed by President Harry S. Truman and a letter from Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps, were read by Colonel True during the ceremony.

Private First Class Epperson graduated from Washington High School in 1941 and was employed at Goodyear Aircraft in Akron, Ohio, before entering the service.

The USS Epperson, a destroyer bearing the hero's name, was launched 23 December 1945, in Port Newark, New Jersey.

Initially buried in the 2d Marine Division Cemetery on Saipan, Marianas Islands, PFC Epperson's remains were reinterred in Winchester Cemetery, Winchester, Kentucky, in 1948.

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