Okinawa bases named for fallen heroes
US Marine Corps News
7/8/2011 By Cpl. Jovane M. Henry, Marine Corps Bases Japan
OKINAWA, Japan — During World War II, one of the fiercest battles took place in the Pacific. The Battle of Okinawa, fought in 1945, claimed more than 62,000 U.S. casualties, making it the bloodiest warfare U.S. forces experienced during the War.
Sixty-six years later, the names of eight Medal of Honor recipients who gave their lives as an ultimate sacrifice for their country, are immortalized through the military installations now established here on the island.
“The fact that every Marine Corps installation on Okinawa bears the name of a Marine that willingly sacrificed their well-being for the sake of the mission and what they believed in is absolutely fitting,” said Staff Sgt. Willie Jenkins III, supply staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge with 3rd Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It ensures the dedication and selflessness these Marines displayed is presented to not only the Corps, but also to Okinawa and the world on a daily basis.”
Each Marine Corps base on Okinawa is named for a Marine who received the Medal of Honor for their actions during the battle.
While common knowledge for some, many are unaware of the significance of the name of the base where they live.
“I knew the bases here were named for Marines, but I didn’t realize the actual impact of the sacrifices they made,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Cook, a battalion legal clerk with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd MLG. “It makes me feel proud to know that I live and work at an installation named after a fighter who embodied everything a Marine is supposed to be, and displayed ultimate selflessness.”
Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Fred F. Lester was a corpsman assigned to Assault Rifle Platoon, 1st Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division. Lester was treating a wounded Marine under a barrage of enemy machine guns, rifles and grenades when he was hit. He managed to pull the wounded man toward a covered position, but was hit a second time. Lester got the Marine to safety but was too seriously wounded to administer care. Realizing his wounds were fatal, Lester refused medical care while directing treatment for other wounded Marines. He died shortly after.
Maj. Henry A. Courtney, Jr. was the executive officer of 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division. On May 14, 1945, he led a charge to seize a forward slope, taking out enemy gun positions along the way. When he reached the hilltop, Courtney encountered a large Japanese force. Attacking, he killed many and forced the remainder to retreat into caves. He was killed by a mortar burst while moving among his troops.
Pfc. William A. Foster was a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. After assaulting a fortified Japanese position, he and another Marine engaged in a fierce hand grenade duel with enemy soldiers. An enemy grenade landed beyond reach of the Marines in the foxhole, so Foster dove on it, absorbing the explosion with his body. He lived long enough to hand his last two grenades to his fellow Marine, saying, “Make them count!”
Pvt. Dale M. Hansen was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. During a critical stage of combat, he launched a one-man assault destroying enemy fighting holes. He reached a ridge crest and opened fire on six Japanese soldiers, killing four before his rifle jammed. Arming himself with another weapon and grenades, he advanced farther, destroying a mortar position and killing eight more of the enemy.
Camp Gonsalves — Jungle Warfare Training Center
Pfc. Harold Gonsalves, a scout sergeant with 4th Battalion, 15th Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division, endured bombardment to help his forward observation team direct artillery fire during the assault at Mount Yaetake. When a Japanese grenade fell nearby, Gonsalves gave his life by diving on top of it.
Sgt. Elbert L. Kinser led a rifle platoon with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. While moving along a strategic ridge, Kinser engaged in a grenade battle after a sudden, close enemy attack. When a grenade landed nearby, Kinser threw himself onto the grenade to shield his men. He died in the explosion.
Pvt. Robert M. McTureous, Jr. was with 3rd Battalion, 29th Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division. He waged a one-man assault on the enemy when he noticed stretcher bearers under fire as they tried to evacuate wounded. His actions drew the heavy fire off the stretcher bearers and onto himself. After receiving serious wounds, McTureous crawled 200 yards to a sheltered position within friendly lines before calling for medical aid.
Pfc. Albert E. Schwab was a flame-thrower operator with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. On May 7, 1945, while pinned down in a valley by machine-gun fire, he scaled a cliff and brazenly attacked the enemy’s gun with his flame thrower. As a result, his company was able to occupy the ridge. Suddenly, a second machine gun opened fire. Although he had not had time to replenish his supply of fuel, Pfc. Schwab advanced and succeeded in eliminating the gun before its final burst caught him in the left hip, inflicting fatal wounds.
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