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First Name: James

Last Name: Poynter

Birthplace: Bloomington, IL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Irsley

Date of Birth: 01 December 1916

Date of Death: 04 November 1950

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1942-1946, 1950
James Irsley Poynter

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


James Irsley Poynter
Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
Medal of Honor Recipient
Korean War

James Irsley Poynter was born on 1 December 1916 in Bloomington, IL. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in February 1942. He fought in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, participating in the Guadalcanal, Southern Solomons, Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa campaigns. Poynter was discharged in February 1946.

At the beginning of the Korean War, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps, joining the 13th Infantry Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve in Los Angeles on 19 July 1950. He arrived in Korea in time to aid in the recapture of Seoul after the Inchon landing. Sgt Poynter was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat "V" for "outstanding leadership, ability and courageous aggressiveness against the enemy" as a squad leader in from 24 September to 4 October 1950.

On 4 November 1950, Sgt Poynter was a squad leader of Company A, 7th Marines. While defending Hill 532, south of Sudong, Korea, he was wounded in hand-to-hand combat. In spite of his wounds, when he saw three machine guns setting up only 25 yards away, he charged the enemy position with hand grenades from fallen comrades, and was able to take out all three machine gun crews before being killed. His heroic actions enabled his outnumbered platoon to beat off the enemy assault and move to more defensible positions.

For his heroic actions on 4 November 1950, Sergeant Poynter was posthumously awarded the United States' highest military decoration; the Medal of Honor. He was the eleventh Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Korea. He was also the father of six children.

Medal of Honor

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

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 counterattack 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.


Other Medals

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Poynter was also awarded the following:

Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"
Purple Heart

Death and Burial

Sergeant James Irsley Poynter was killed in action on 4 November 1950. He was buried with full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA. His grave is located in Section O, Grave 729, GPS (latitude/longitude): 32.41202, -117.14594.

Honoree ID: 1224   Created by: MHOH




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