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First Name: John

Last Name: Leims

Birthplace: Chicago, IL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Harold

Date of Birth: 08 June 1921

Date of Death: 28 June 1985

Rank: Captain

Years Served: 1942-1962
John Harold Leims

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John Harold Leims
Captain, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Captain John Harold Leims (8 June 1921 - 28 June 1985) was a U.S. Marine Corps officer who was awarded the Medal of Honor as a Second Lieutenant for his heroic actions on Iwo Jima during World War II.

John Harold Leims was born on 8 June 1921 in Chicago, IL. He attended St. Hilary Parochial School; Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary; and graduated from Saint George High School in Evanston, IL, in 1939. At Saint 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, IL; and the Austin Construction Company.

Marine Corps Service

Enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on 27 November 1942, he completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, and was assigned to the 3rd Service Battalion, 3rd 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 U.S. in September 1943. He was commissioned a Marine Second Lieutenant on 1 March 1944 at Quantico, VA.

On 29 June 1944, 2nd Lt Leims went overseas again and rejoined the 3rd 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 the same day. On 3 March, due to heavy casualties, he became company commander (B-1-9), 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. For his heroic actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division.

Place and date: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 7 March 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 7 march 1945. Launching a surprise attack against the rock-imbedded fortification of a dominating Japanese hill position, 2d Lt. 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 later afternoon. When it became apparent that his assault platoons were cut off in this newly won position, approximately 400 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 affecting 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 frontlines. Although suffering acutely from the strain and exhausting of battle, he instantly went forward despite darkness and the slashing fury of hostile machinegun fire, located and carried to safety 1 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 time for the welfare of his men, 2d Lt. 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 for 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 sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Promoted to First Lieutenant on 1 June 1945, he returned to the U.S. that November and was detached from active duty on 25 January 1946. On 14 June 1946 he was temporarily recalled to active duty to receive the Medal of Honor, presented to him by President Harry S. Truman in a White House ceremony.

A member of the 9th Reserve District, Leims was subsequently promoted to Captain in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1956, and retired on 1 July 1962.

Death and Burial

Captain John Harold Leims died on 28 June 1985 at the age of 64. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 2, Grave 1132-2.

Honoree ID: 1496   Created by: MHOH




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