The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Squad Leader in a Rifle Platoon of Company A, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces during the defense of Hill 532, south of Sudong, Korea, on 4 November 1950. When a vastly outnumbering, well-concealed hostile force launched a sudden, vicious counter-attack against his platoon's hasty defensive position, Sergeant Poynter displayed superb skill and courage in leading his squad and directing its fire against the onrushing enemy. With his ranks critically depleted by casualties and he himself critically wounded as the onslaught gained momentum and the hostile force surrounded his position, he seized his bayonet and engaged in bitter hand-to-hand combat as the break-through continued. Observing three machine guns closing in at a distance of twelve-five yards, he dashed from his position and, grasping hand grenades from fallen Marines as he ran, charged the emplacements in rapid succession, killing the crews of two and putting the other out of action before he fell, mortally wounded. By his self-sacrificing and valiant conduct, Sergeant Poynter inspired the remaining members of his squad to heroic endeavor in bearing down upon and repelling the disorganized enemy, thereby enabling the platoon to move out of the trap to a more favorable tactical position. His indomitable fighting spirit, fortitude and great personal valor maintained in the face of overwhelming odds sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Harry S. Truman
President of the United States
Sergeant James Irsley Poynter, 33, of Downey, California, earned the Medal of Honor for giving his life in a lone charge which wiped out three enemy machine gun crews.
He was a Marine veteran of World War II and father of four children. He reenlisted in the Marine Corps at the outbreak of the Korean conflict.
He joined the 13th Infantry Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve, in Los Angeles on 19 July 1950, and was the 11th Marine to earn the Nation’s highest honor for heroism in Korea.
The citation said Sgt Poynter, already wounded in hand-to-hand combat against overwhelming enemy forces, saw three machine guns setting up only 25 yards away. Gathering hand grenades from fallen comrades, he stormed all three positions in rapid succession, killing the crews of two guns and “putting the other out of action before he fell, mortally wounded.”
His attack enabled his outnumbered men to beat off the enemy assault and move to more defensible positions.
He had also been awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for “outstanding leadership, ability and courageous aggressiveness against the enemy” as a squad leader from 24 September to 4 October 1950.
James Irsley Poynter was born 1 December 1916 in Bloomington, Illinois. He enlisted in the regular Marine Corps in February 1942 and subsequently participated in the Guadalcanal, Southern Solomons, Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa campaigns. He was discharged in February 1946.
Arriving in Korea in time to aid in the recapture of Seoul after the Inchon landing, Sgt Poynter was a squad leader of Company A, 7th Marines at the time of his death.
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