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First Name: Martin

Last Name: May

Birthplace: Phillipsburg, NJ, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Phillipsburg, NJ
Middle Name: O.

Date of Birth: 18 April 1922

Date of Death: 21 April 1945

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1942 - 1945
Martin O. May

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Martin O. May

Private First Class, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private First Class Martin O. May (18 April 1922 - 21 April 1945) was a U.S. Army soldier 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.

Martin O. May was born 18 April 1922 in Phillipsburg, NJ, and was raised in that city. He graduated from Phillipsburg High School in the class of 1941. May also joined the Army from Phillipsburg.

On 19 April 1945, he was serving as a Private First Class in the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division. On that day at legusuku-Yama on le Shima in the Ryukyu Islands, he manned his machine gun under intense Japanese fire. He repeatedly refused to withdraw, even after being seriously wounded, and held his ground until being killed. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.

Place and date: legusuku-Yama, le Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 19-21 April 1945.

Citation: He gallantly maintained a 3-day stand in the face of terrible odds when American troops fought for possession of the rugged slopes of legusuku-Yama on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands. After placing his heavy machinegun in an advantageous yet vulnerable position on a ridge to support riflemen, he became the target of fierce mortar and small arms fire from counterattacking Japanese. He repulsed this assault by sweeping the enemy with accurate bursts while explosions and ricocheting bullets threw blinding dust and dirt about him. He broke up a second counterattack by hurling grenades into the midst of the enemy forces, and then refused to withdraw, volunteering to maintain his post and cover the movement of American riflemen as they reorganized to meet any further hostile action. The major effort of the enemy did not develop until the morning of 21 April. It found Pfc. May still supporting the rifle company in the face of devastating rifle, machinegun, and mortar fire. While many of the friendly troops about him became casualties, he continued to fire his machinegun until he was severely wounded and his gun rendered useless by the burst of a mortar shell. Refusing to withdraw from the violent action, he blasted fanatical Japanese troops with hand grenades until wounded again, this time mortally. By his intrepidity and the extreme tenacity with which he held firm until death against overwhelming forces, Pfc. May killed at least 16 Japanese, was largely responsible for maintaining the American lines, and inspired his comrades to efforts which later resulted in complete victory and seizure of the mountain stronghold.

Death and Burial

Private First Class Martin O. May was killed in action on 21 April 1945. He is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI, in Section N, Grave 1242.

Honoree ID: 1518   Created by: MHOH




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