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First Name: William

Last Name: Walsh

Birthplace: Roxbury, MA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Gary

Date of Birth: 07 April 1922

Date of Death: 27 February 1945

Rank: Gunnery Sergeant

Years Served: 1942 - 1945
William Gary Walsh

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


William Gary Walsh

Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Gunnery Sergeant William Gary Walsh (7 April 1922 - 27 February 1945) 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 during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

William Gary Walsh was born on 7 April 1922 in Roxbury, MA. He attended public schools in Boston before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in April 1942. He received his basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC, and advanced training at Camp Lejeune, NC.

From Camp Lejeune, he went to Samoa and was assigned to a unit of Marine scouts. His next assignment was with the famed Carlson's Raiders. During the U.S. war with Japan in the Pacific, he saw action at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tarawa, and in the Russell Islands. Following two years of service in the Pacific theatre, he returned to the U.S. He returned overseas later with the 5th Marine Division in time for the Iwo Jima invasion. It was at Iwo Jima, while leading his men against a fortified hill on 27 February 1945, he threw himself on a hand grenade, sacrificing his life to save the lives of fellow Marines. For this heroic act, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Citation: For extraordinary gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of an assault platoon, attached to Company G, 3d Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands on 27 February 1945. With the advance of his company toward Hill 362 disrupted by vicious machinegun fire from a forward position which guarded the approaches to this key enemy stronghold, G/Sgt. Walsh fearlessly charged at the head of his platoon against the Japanese entrenched on the ridge above him, utterly oblivious to the unrelenting fury of hostile automatic weapons fire and handgrenades employed with fanatic desperation to smash his daring assault. Thrown back by the enemy's savage resistance, he once again led his men in a seemingly impossible attack up the steep, rocky slope, boldly defiant of the annihilating streams of bullets which saturated the area. Despite his own casualty losses and the overwhelming advantage held by the Japanese in superior numbers and dominant position, he gained the ridge's top only to be subjected to an intense barrage of handgrenades thrown by the remaining Japanese staging a suicidal last stand on the reverse slope. When 1 of the grenades fell in the midst of his surviving men, huddled together in a small trench, G/Sgt. Walsh, in a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice, instantly threw himself upon the deadly bomb, absorbing with his own body the full and terrific force of the explosion. Through his extraordinary initiative and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, he saved his comrades from injury and possible loss of life and enabled his company to seize and hold this vital enemy position. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Death and Burial

Gunnery Sergeant William Gary Walsh was killed in action on 27 February 1945. Initially buried at the 5th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima, Walsh's remains were later returned to the U.S. and re-interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA, on 20 April 1948. His grave is located in Section 12, Grave 487.

Honoree ID: 1698   Created by: MHOH




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