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First Name: William

Last Name: Halyburton

Birthplace: Canton, NC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Pharmacist's Mate Petty Officer 2nd Class

Middle Name: David

Date of Birth: 02 August 1924

Date of Death: 10 May 1945

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer Second Class

Years Served: 1943-1945
William David Halyburton, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


William David Halyburton, Jr.
Pharmacist's Mate Second Class, U.S. Navy
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Pharmacist's Mate Second Class William David Halyburton, Jr. (2 August 1924 - 10 May 1945) was a U.S. Navy sailor and combat medic who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II. He earned the medal while serving as a combat medic attached to a U.S. Marine Corps unit in the Battle of Okinawa. He is one of two people from Haywood County, NC, to receive the medal in World War II; the other was Max Thompson.

William David Halyburton, Jr. was born on 2 August 1924, in Canton, NC. He attended Canton Presbyterian Church before moving to Wilmington, NC. He entered seminary at Davidson College in Davidson, NC, but left to enlist in the U.S. Naval Reserve in August 1943. Completing recruit training at the Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, MD, he was promoted to Seaman Second Class in the fall. Remaining in the area, he attended the Hospital Corps School and was rated a Pharmacist's Mate Third Class. Receiving additional training, he was promoted to Pharmacist's Mate Second Class and departed for the Pacific war zone in December 1944 aboard the transport USS General M. M. Patrick. Upon arrival in the area, he joined the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On 10 May 1945, Halyburton served with a Marine rifle company against the Japanese on Okinawa when they suffered numerous casualties after advancing into Awacha Draw. Exposed to enemy fire, he rushed to aid a fallen Marine the furthest away. Shielding the man with his own body while administering aid, Halyburton was mortally wounded. For this heroic action, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Pharmacist's Mate Second Class, U.S. Naval Reserve.

Place and date: Okinawa Shima, Ryukyu Chain, 10 May 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a Marine Rifle Company in the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, 10 May 1945. Undaunted by the deadly accuracy of Japanese counterfire as his unit pushed the attack through a strategically important draw, Halyburton unhesitatingly dashed across the draw and up the hill into an open fire-swept field where the company advance squad was suddenly pinned down under a terrific concentration of mortar, machinegun and sniper fire with resultant severe casualties. Moving steadily forward despite the enemy's merciless barrage, he reached the wounded marine who lay farthest away and was rendering first aid when his patient was struck for the second time by a Japanese bullet. Instantly placing himself in the direct line of fire, he shielded the fallen fighter with his own body and staunchly continued his ministrations although constantly menaced by the slashing fury of shrapnel and bullets falling on all sides. Alert, determined and completely unselfish in his concern for the helpless marine, he persevered in his efforts until he himself sustained mortal wounds and collapsed, heroically sacrificing himself that his comrade might live. By his outstanding valor and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of tremendous odds, Halyburton sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.


• The USS Halyburton (FFG-40), a guided missile frigate commissioned on 4 January 1984, was named in his honor.

• Halyburton Quarters in Charleston, SC, is named in his honor.

• A road at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, is named after him.

• A barracks at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, is named in his honor.

• A public park in Wilmington, NC, is named for him.

• In his birth city of Canton, NC, Halliburton Street was re-spelled Halyburton Street in his honor.

Death and Burial

Pharmacist's Mate Second Class William David Halyburton, Jr. was killed in action on 10 May 1945. He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI, in Section O, Grave 274.

Honoree ID: 1423   Created by: MHOH




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