The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

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

Pharmacist's Mate First Class

United States Navy


Pharmacist's Mate First Class Francis J. Pierce
United States Navy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the 2nd Battalion,24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, during the Iwo Jima campaign on 15 and 16 March 1945. Almost continuously under fire while carrying out the most dangerous volunteer assignment, Petty Officer Pierce gained valuable knowledge of the terrain and disposition of troops. Caught in heavy enemy rifle and machine-gun fire which wounded a corpsman and two of the eight stretcher bearers who were carring two wounded Marines to a forward aid station on 15 March, Petty Officer Pierce quickly took charge of the party, carried the newly wounded men to a sheltered position, and rendered first aid. After directing the evacuation of three of the casualties, he stood in the open to draw the enemy's fire and, with his weapon blasting, enabled the litter bearers to reach cover. Turning his attention to the other two casualties, he was attempting to stop the profuse bleeding of one man when a Japanese fired from a cave less than twenty yards away and wounded his patient again. Risking his own life to save his patient, Petty Officer Pierce deliberately exposed himself to draw the attacker from the cave and destroyed him with the last of his ammunition. Then lifting the wounded man to his back, he advanced unarmed through deadly rifle fire across 200 feet of open terrain. Despite exhaustion and in the face of warnings against such a suicidal mission, he again traversed the same fire-swept path to rescue the remaining Marine. On the following morning, he led a combat patrol to the snipers nest and, while aiding a stricken Marine, was seriously wounded. Refusing aid for himself, he directed treatment for the casualty, at the same time maintaining protective fire for his comrades. Completely fearless, and devoted to the care of his patients, Petty Officer Pierce inspired the entire battalion. His valor on the face of extreme peril sustains the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Frank was born on 7 December 1924 in Earlville, Iowa, where he attented high school. It was there on an Iowa farm that he became an avid hunter. He joined theNavy on his seventeenth birthday, 7 December 1941, seven months after his high school graduation. After completing Corpsman training, he was assigned to HQ-2-24, Fourth Marine Division. After he was discharged on 1 December 1945 he returned to Earlville for a short period of time and then moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to meet and to woo Loraine, a girl he had never seen but whom he knew through correspondence during his years with the Marine Corps. Loraine passed away in 1975. He joined the Grand Rapids police force and rose from patrolman to Deputy Police Chief. The luster of his courage can be illustrated: During the 1967 civil disrurbances he charged into a group of unruly citizens while braving a shower of rocks and a few bullets. Another time, he walked into an apartment and kicked a loaded, big-game rifle from the hands of a man causing the disturbance.He was fond of saying "Becoming a hero is something accidental. You do not go out and do it. You've got to be in the right place and the right time with the right people looking on," Always very direct, in one of his speeches, he stated that, "My reputation, which in most cases is well deserved, is that I am blunt, direct, malicious, vindictive, and hard to get along with. This has caused me problems over the years." His wife Madelyn, described him as "one of a kind, a legend in his own time. He was tough, but he was always fair. He was loving and gentle, yet strong." He was presented the Medal of Honor from President Truman on 25 June 1948. Prior to that, he had received the Navy Cross and the Silver Star. His last battle was with cancer and that ended on 21 December 1986. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

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