The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
Captain Joseph J. McCarthy
United States Marine Corps Reserve
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company G, Second Battalion, Twenty-Fourth Marines, Fourth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, on 21 February 1945. Determined to break through the enemy's cross-island defenses, Captain McCarthy acted on his own initiative when his company advance was held up by uninterrupted Japanese rifle, machine-gun and high velocity 47-mm. fire during the approach to Motoyama Airfield Number two. Quickly organizing a demolitions and flamethrower team to accompany his picked rifle squad, he fearlessly led the way across seventy-five yards of fire-swept ground, charged a heavily fortified pillbox on the ridge to the front and, personally hurling hand grenades into the
emplacement as he directed the combined operations of his small assault group, completely destroyed the hostile installation. Spotting two Japanese soldiers attempting an escape from the shattered pillbox, he boldly stood upright in full view of the enemy and dispatched both troops before advancing to a second emplacement under greatly intensified fire and blasted the strong fortifications with a well- planned demolitions attack. Subsequently entering the ruins, he found a Japanese taking aim at one of his men and with alert presence of mind jumped the enemy, disarmed and shot him with his own weapon. Then, intent on smashing through the narrow breach, he rallied the remainder of his company and pressed a full attack with furious aggressiveness until he had neutralized all resistance and captured the ridge. An inspiring leader and indomitable fighter, Captain McCarthy consistently disregarded all personal danger during the fierce conflict and by his brilliant professional skill, daring tactics and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, contributed materially to the success of his division's operations against this savagely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His cool decision and outstanding valor reflect the highest credit upon Captain McCarthy and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
President of the United States
Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Jeremiah McCarthy, who earned the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action while commanding a rifle company on Iwo Jima, died 15 June 1996 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Lieutenant Colonel McCarthy was born in Chicago, Illinois, 10 August 1911. He first enlisted in the Marine Corps on 20 February 1937 in Chicago and served for four years. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he re-enlisted and returned to active duty in February 1942. In June of that year, he was discharged with the rank of first sergeant in order to accept a commission in the Marine Corps Reserve.
He joined the 4th Marine Division shortly thereafter, and went overseas in January 1944. Overseas, he took part in the Roi-Namur, Saipan-Tinian, and Iwo Jima campaigns. For heroism as a rifle company commander on Saipan in 1944, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal. The Purple Heart with Gold Star was awarded him for wounds received on Saipan and Iwo Jima.
On 21 February 1945, as a captain, he earned the Medal of Honor on Iwo Jima, while leading an assault team across exposed ground to wipe out positions holding up the advance of his company. The Medal was presented him by President Harry S. Truman in ceremonies at the White House, 5 October 1945.
Released from active duty following the war, he held the grade of lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve.
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