Major Henry T. Elrod, USMC, (1905-1941)

Henry Talmage Elrod was born on 27 September 1905 in Rebecca, Georgia. He enlisted from that same state in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1927. In February 1931, he was appointed a Second Lieutenant. Following The Basic School at Marine Barracks, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he remained at that location for naval aviator instruction. He later transferred to continue his naval aviation training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. In May 1934, Elrod was promoted to First Lieutenant. In February 1935, he was designated a Marine Aviator and was assigned to aviation duty at Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, where he was promoted to Captain in September 1937. The following summer, he received orders to Naval Air Station, San Diego, California.

In January 1941, Elrod was ordered to Naval Air Station, Pearl Harbor, then Territory of Hawaii, and was attached to Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Eleven (VMF 211). On 4 December 1941, he flew with his squadron to deliver aircraft to Wake Island. Subsquently, he was on the island when the Japanese attacked on 8 December. During 9-12 December, he engaged the superior number of enemy bombers and warships, shooting down two planes and helping to successfully sink the Japanese destroyer Kisaragi. After the squadron's aircraft was destroyed, Elrod led and coordinated his sector's beach defense. Despite his valiant resistance, he was mortally wounded by invading forces on 23 December 1941. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on these occasions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In January 1942, he was posthumously promoted to Major. Henry T. Elrod is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

USS Elrod (FFG-55), (1985-____), is named after Major Henry T. Elrod.

This page features the only images we have concerning Henry T. Elrod.

Photo #: USMC 26044

Captain Henry T. Elrod, USMC

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while attached to Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Eleven (VMF-211) when the Japanese attacked with air, land, and sea units on Wake Island, 8-23 December 1941.

U.S. Marine Corps Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 78KB; 580 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

Photo #: NH 95807

Second Lieutenant Henry T. Elrod, USMC

Photographed while stationed at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, 1934.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 78KB; 580 x 765 pixels


Medal of Honor citation of Captain Henry Talmage Elrod, USMC (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 179):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to Marine Fighting Squadron TWO HUNDRED ELEVEN, during action against enemy Japanese land, surface and aerial units at Wake Island, 8 to 23 December 1941. Engaging vastly superior forces of enemy bombers and warships on 9 and 12 December, Captain Elrod shot down 2 of a flight of 22 hostile planes and, executing repeated bombing and strafing runs at extremely low altitude and close range, succeeded in inflicting deadly damage upon a large Japanese vessel, thereby sinking the first major warship to be destroyed by small-caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft. When his plane was disabled by hostile fire and no other ships were operative, Captain Elrod assumed command of one flank of the line set up in defiance of the enemy landing and, conducting a brilliant defense, enabled his men to hold their positions and repulse intense hostile fusillades to provide covering fire for unarmed ammunition carriers. Capturing an automatic weapon during one enemy rush in force, he gave his own firearm to one of his men and fought on vigorously against the Japanese. Responsible in a large measure for the strength of his sector's gallant resistance, on 23 December, Captain Elrod led his men with bold aggressiveness until he fell, mortally wounded. His superb skill as a pilot, daring leadership and unswerving devotion to duty distinguished him among the defenders of Wake Island, and his valiant conduct reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."

For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.

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