On November 20, 1943, the Battle of Tarawa was underway, and amongst the blood, bullets and explosions, stood U.S. Marine SSgt. William J. Bordelon.
As part of the initial assault wave, the enemy fire on the beach was so heavy, that only himself and 3 other Marines managed to get off his landing craft alive. Crawling through the bloody sand, Bordelon realized that 4 pillboxes were responsible for decimating the Americans on the beach.
He hurriedly made demolition charges and single handedly put two pill boxes out of action. On the way to the 3rd position, he was hit by enemy machine-gun fire which detonated a charge in his hand.
Despite the serious injury, he courageously remained in action and, although out of demolition, provided himself with a rifle and furnished fire coverage for a group of men scaling the seawall.
He then went to the aid of one of his demolition men, wounded and calling for help in the water, rescuing this man and another who had been hit by enemy fire while attempting to make the rescue.
Still refusing first aid for himself, he again made up demolition charges and single-handedly assaulted the fourth Japanese machine-gun position but was instantly killed when caught in a final burst of fire from the enemy.
For his actions, the 22 year old Marine was awarded the Medal of Honor, the first Marine from Texas to receive it during the war.