PEOPLE--UNITED STATES

Private First Class Harold G. Epperson, USMCR, (1923-1944)

Harold G. Epperson was born on 14 July 1923 in Akron, Ohio. In December 1942, he enlisted from that same state in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Following Basic Training, he reported to the First Battalion, Sixth Marines, Second Marine Division and departed for combat duty in the Pacific, participating in the Battle of Tarawa in November 1943.

On 25 June 1944, Epperson served as a Machine Gunner in action against Japanese forces at the Battle of Saipan, Mariana Islands. During the furious battle, Epperson bravely remained at his post and aggressively defended his battalion's position. When an enemy soldier hurled a hand grenade into his emplacement, he selflessly threw himself upon it, sacrificing his life to save his comrades. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Harold G. Epperson is buried at Town Cemetery, Winchester, Kentucky.

USS Epperson (DD-719), (1945-1976), was named after Private First Class Harold G. Epperson.

This page features the only image we have concerning Harold G. Epperson.

Photo #: NH 105931

Private First Class Harold G. Epperson, USMCR


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 180.
Harold G. Epperson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while attached to the First Battalion, Sixth Marines, Second Division during the Battle of Saipan, Mariana Islands, 25 June 1944.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 66KB; 580 x 765 pixels

 


Medal of Honor citation of Private First Class Harold Glenn Epperson, USMCR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 180):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the First Battalion, Sixth Marines, SECOND Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Saipan in the Marianas, on 25 June 1944. With his machine-gun emplacement bearing the full brunt of the fanatic assault initiated by the Japanese under cover of predawn darkness, Private First Class Epperson manned his weapon with determined aggressiveness, fighting furiously in the defense of his battalion's position and maintaining a steady stream of devastating fire against rapidly infiltrating hostile troops to aid materially in annihilating several of the enemy and in breaking the abortive attack. Suddenly, a Japanese soldier, assumed to be dead, sprang up and hurled a powerful hand grenade into the emplacement. Determined to save his comrades, Private First Class Epperson unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and, diving upon the deadly missile, absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his own body. Stout-hearted and indomitable in the face of certain death, Private First Class Epperson fearlessly yielded his own life that his able comrades might carry on the relentless battle against a ruthless enemy. His superb valor and unfaltering devotion to duty throughout reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."


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