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First Name: Joseph

Last Name: Ozbourn

Birthplace: Herrin, IL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: William

Date of Birth: 24 October 1919

Date of Death: 30 July 1944

Rank: Private

Years Served: 1943-1944
Joseph William Ozbourn

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Joseph William Ozbourn

Private, U.S. Marine Corps

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private Joseph William Ozbourn (24 October 1919 - 30 July 1944) was a U.S. Marine who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions in the Marianas during World War II.

Joseph William Ozbourn was born on 24 October 1919 in Herrin, IL. He attended grammar school in Buckner, IL, and subsequently became a trip rider in the mines for the Old Ben Coal Corporation in West Frankfort, IL. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on 30 October 1943.

On 30 July 1944, Private Ozbourn was serving as a Browning Automatic Rifleman with the First Battalion, Twenty-Third Marines, Fourth Marine Division, during the Battle of Tinian. He died after covering a live hand grenade with his body, saving the lives of four fellow Marines. For his selfless self-sacrifice, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Marine Corps.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Browning Automatic Rifleman serving with the 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, 4th Marine Division, during the battle for enemy Japanese-held Tinian Island, Marianas Islands, 30 July 1944. As a member of a platoon assigned the mission of clearing the remaining Japanese troops from dugouts and pillboxes along a tree line, Pvt. Ozbourn, flanked by 2 men on either side, was moving forward to throw an armed hand grenade into a dugout when a terrific blast from the entrance severely wounded the 4 men and himself. Unable to throw the grenade into the dugout and with no place to hurl it without endangering the other men, Pvt. Ozbourn unhesitatingly grasped it close to his body and fell upon it, sacrificing his own life to absorb the full impact of the explosion, but saving his comrades. His great personal valor and unwavering loyalty reflect the highest credit upon Pvt. Ozbourn and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart


The U.S. Navy's Gearing class destroyer USSĀ Ozbourn, named in his honor, was christened by Ozbourn's widow on 22 December 1945 at the Bath Iron Works, Bath, ME; and commissioned by Mrs. Ozbourn on 5 March 1946 at the Boston Naval Shipyard.

Death and Burial

Private Joseph William Ozbourn was killed in action on 30 July 1944. Private Ozbourn was initially buried in Tinian, Mariana Islands, but later his remains were re-interred at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI, in Section F, Grave 77.

Honoree ID: 1585   Created by: MHOH




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