On October 24, 1942, during the Battle for Henderson Field, John Basilone, and his Marines went up against an overwhelming force of over 3,000 Japanese soldiers. For multiple days, Japanese forces charged Basilone’s position, only to get absolutely annihilated by Basilone’s machine gun fire.
He held off the enemy forces for 3 days. He didn’t eat or rest. Basilone just kept feeding lead to the enemy, with the occasional pause to run for resupplies. Once the ammo ran dry, John continued to hold the Marine position with just his sidearm and a machete. Only Basilone and two other Marines survived the engagement. The Japanese however were virtually wiped out. Private First Class Nash W. Phillips had this to say about John Basilone.
"Basilone had a machine gun on the go for three days and nights without sleep, rest, or food. He was in a good emplacement, and causing the Japanese lots of trouble, not only firing his machine gun but also using his pistol."
For his actions during the battle, John Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was brought home to tour the country, raising funds for the war. Multiple times John Basilone asked to be sent back out into the Pacific Campaign, and multiple times he was told he was more valuable to the Marine Corps at home. Offers of becoming a commissioned officer were declined by Basilone. Eventually, the Corps gave in, and Basilone was sent back into the fight.
During the first day of the Battle of Iwo Jima, John Basilone single-handedly flanked an enemy-fortified position and obliterated everyone inside with grenades and other explosives. This freed up pinned American troops to get off the beach, and push forward into the island. He would then help guide tanks through Japanese minefields while under fire himself. Sadly the enemy would finally be able to take out John Basilone while he was maneuvering along an airstrip. His actions heavily helped the Marines push through the hard shell of the Japanese defenses. Basilone was the reaper of enemy souls.
John Basilone was the only enlisted Marine to receive both a Medal of Honor and a Navy Cross during World War 2.