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First Name: John

Last Name: McKinney

Birthplace: Woodcliff, GA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Woodcliff, GA
Middle Name: R.

Date of Birth: 26 February 1921

Date of Death: 04 April 1997

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served:
John R. McKinney

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John R. McKinney

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Sergeant John R. McKinney (26 February 1921 - 4 April 1997) was a U.S. Army soldier who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

John R. McKinney was born on 26 February 1921 in Woodcliff, GA; he also entered the Army from that city.

During the campaign to recapture the Philippines from Japanese forces in 1945, McKinney was able to single-handedly secure a crucial battlefield area before reinforcements arrived. For his actions he received the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant (then Private), U.S. Army, Company A, 123d Infantry, 33d Infantry Division.

Place and date: Tayabas Province, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 11 May 1945.

Citation: He fought with extreme gallantry to defend the outpost which had been established near Dingalan Bay. Just before daybreak approximately 100 Japanese stealthily attacked the perimeter defense, concentrating on a light machinegun position manned by 3 Americans. Having completed a long tour of duty at this gun, Pvt. McKinney was resting a few paces away when an enemy soldier dealt him a glancing blow on the head with a saber. Although dazed by the stroke, he seized his rifle, bludgeoned his attacker, and then shot another assailant who was charging him. Meanwhile, 1 of his comrades at the machinegun had been wounded and his other companion withdrew carrying the injured man to safety. Alone, Pvt. McKinney was confronted by 10 infantrymen who had captured the machinegun with the evident intent of reversing it to fire into the perimeter. Leaping into the emplacement, he shot 7 of them at pointblank range and killed 3 more with his rifle butt. In the melee the machinegun was rendered inoperative, leaving him only his rifle with which to meet the advancing Japanese, who hurled grenades and directed knee mortar shells into the perimeter. He warily changed position, secured more ammunition, and reloading repeatedly, cut down waves of the fanatical enemy with devastating fire or clubbed them to death in hand-to-hand combat. When assistance arrived, he had thwarted the assault and was in complete control of the area. Thirty-eight dead Japanese around the machinegun and 2 more at the side of a mortar 45 yards distant was the amazing toll he had exacted single-handedly. By his indomitable spirit, extraordinary fighting ability, and unwavering courage in the face of tremendous odds, Pvt. McKinney saved his company from possible annihilation and set an example of unsurpassed intrepidity.

In a White House ceremony on 23 January 1946, President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Sergeant McKinney and three other recipients.


The State of Georgia re-named a highway The John R. McKinney Medal of Honor Highway in his honor.

Death and Burial

Sergeant John R. McKinney died on 4 April 1997 at age 76. He is buried at Doubleheads Baptist Church in Sylvania, Screven County, GA.

Honoree ID: 1533   Created by: MHOH




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