The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
JOHN H. LEIMS
United States Marine Corps Reserve
Second Lieutenant John H. Leims
United States Marine Corps Reserves
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company B, First Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, on 7 March 1945. Launching a surprise attack against the rock-imbedded fortifications of a dominating Japanese hill position, Second Lieutenant Leims spurred his company forward with indomitable determination and, skillfully directing his assault platoons against the cave-emplaced enemy troops and heavily fortified pillboxes, succeeded in capturing the objective in the late afternoon. When it became apparent that his assault platoons were cut off in this newly won position, approximately four hundred yards forward of adjacent units and lacked all communication with the command post, he
personally advanced and laid telephone lines across the isolating expanse of open, fire-swept terrain. Ordered to withdraw his command after he had joined his forward platoons, he immediately complied, adroitly effecting the withdrawal of his troops without incident. Upon arriving at the rear, he was informed that several casualties had been left at the abandoned ridge position beyond the front lines. Although suffering acutely from strain and exhaustion of battle, he instantly went forward despite darkness and the slashing fury of hostile machine-gun fire, located and carried to safety one seriously wounded Marine and then, running the gauntlet of enemy fire for the third time that night, again made his tortuous way into the bullet-riddled deathtrap and rescued another of his wounded men. A dauntless leader, concerned at all times for the welfare of his men, Second Lieutenant Leims soundly maintained the coordinated strength of his battle-wearied company under extremely difficult conditions and, by his bold tactics, sustained aggressiveness and heroic disregard of all personal danger, contributed essentially to the success of his division's operations against this vital Japanese base. His valiant conduct in the face of fanatic opposition sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
President of the United States
Captain John Harold Leims earned the Medal of Honor as a second lieutenant on Iwo Jima, 7 March 1945.
John Harold Leims was born in Chicago, Illinois, 8 June 1921. He attended St. Hilary Parochial School, Quigley Preparatory Seminary, and graduated from St. George High School in Evanston, Illinois, in 1939. At St. George's, he played varsity football and track, was sports editor of the school paper, and was an assistant scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America.
After high school, he attended Northwestern University for two and a half years, and worked part-time at the Commonwealth Edison Company. He left college in 1941 following his marriage, and worked subsequently for the Standard Oil Company; the Paschen Construction Company; the Naval Station at Great Lakes, Illinois, and the Austin Construction Company.
Enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve on 27 November 1942, he completed recruit training at San Diego and was assigned to the 3d Service Battalion, 3d Marine Division. He left for overseas duty with that unit, on 23 February 1943. After four months in New Zealand and two months at Guadalcanal, he was selected for officer training and returned to the United States in September 1943. He was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant, 1 March 1944, at Quantico, Virginia.
On 29 June of that year, 2dLt Leims went overseas again and rejoined the 3d Marine Division. This time, he was a company officer in a rifle company of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. In October and November, he was actively engaged in patrolling against Japanese holdouts on Guam.
Landing on Iwo Jima on 24 February 1945, he was slightly wounded by a shell fragment on 27 February but returned to duty on the same day. On 3 March due to heavy casualties, he became company commander, a position usually filled by a captain. On 7 March he led his company in a surprise attack against a strongly fortified enemy hill position, succeeded in capturing the objective, and in spite of withering fire returned forward to rescue two of his wounded men.
Promoted to first lieutenant, 1 June 1945, he returned to the United States that November and was detached from active duty on 25 January 1946. On 14 June of that year, he was temporarily recalled to active duty to receive the Medal of Honor, presented to him by President Truman in a White House ceremony.
A member of the 9th Reserve District, he was subsequently promoted to captain in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1956, and retired 1 July 1962. He died in June 1985 at the age of 64.