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On a rainy and dreary night at Lunga Ridge not far from Henderson Field in the Guadalcanal a 26 year old gunnery Sergeant became a legend and a hero. For six months the Japanese and the Americans were fighting to gain control of Henderson Field. On October 25, 1942 that struggle came to an end when John Basilone, an Italian American from Raritan, New Jersey, withstood wave after wave of attacks by the Japanese to win the battle. He was a "one man army" according to General Douglas MacArthur. His courage and bravery made him a legend and a hero to his fellow soldiers and his country. To many he became the "Fighting Sergeant."
His actions during the battle earned him the prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor. He returned to Raritan, New Jersey where the people of his home town honored him. The months following saw John touring the country on a war-bond drive, but this wasn't how John wanted to spend his time. It didn't seem right to him and in 1944 he volunteered for combat duty. On February 19, 1945 the men of the Fifth Marine Division landed on the sands of Iwo Jima. Basilone was part of this group of men, but this time the results were not the same for John. Within a short time of his landing on Iwo Jima he was killed when a mortar exploded near by. His actions were not forgotten as he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. Thus making him the only Marine in WWII to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.
He is one of many men who served in World War II who lost their lives to help ensure that future generations would have the opportunity to live in a free society. We can never thank the many men and women that served their country for what they have done. Their courage and bravery to defend a nation from the evil that plagued our world is an inspiration to us all. We can only help to ensure that all they have done will not be forgotten.
It was great to learn that President Bush signed a bill that will enable construction of a World War II monument honoring the men and women who served to protect their country. During Memorial Day weekend in 2004 the World War II monument was officially open and those who died for freedom will never be forgotten. There was a petition on the Internet in which people signed asking that the United State Post Office memorialize John Basilone on a US Postage Stamp. On November 10, 2005 the United State Post Office issued the Distinguished Marines stamps, which commemorated four legendary Marines. The marines honored were John Basilone, Daniel J. Daly, John A. Lejeune, and Lewis B. Puller. The monument and the stamp can not ever thank those who served for their country, but it is a step to ensure that future generations will never forget what their ancestors have given up for them.
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