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Photo # NH 103905:  Second Lieutenant John H. Leims, USMCR

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Captain John H. Leims, USMCR, (1921-1985)

John Harold Leims was born on 8 June 1921 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from St. George High School in 1939 and attended Northwestern University before leaving to work in the Chicago area. In November 1942, Leims enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, receiving recruit training at San Diego, California. He was assigned to the Third Battalion, Third Marine Division, leaving the U.S. in February 1943 for duty in the South Pacific area. Later that year, Leims was selected for officer training, returned to the U.S. and was commissioned at the beginning of March 1944. In the summer, Second Lieutenant Leims was assigned as a company officer in the First Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division and took part in patrols against Japanese holdouts on Guam.

With that battalion, he participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima, landing on the island on 24 February 1945 and later taking command of Company B. On 7 March, after leading his men in the capture of Japanese fortifications ahead of the front lines, Leims realized his assault platoons were isolated and personally laid telephone lines across fire-swept terrain to restore communications. When ordered to withdraw, he skillfully led his men back to the rear. Learning that casualties remained in the abandoned position, Lieutenant Leims made four more trips across the deadly battlefield to rescue two wounded Marines. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life," he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Promoted to First Lieutenant in June 1945, he left active service in January 1946, but was recalled to receive the Medal of Honor, which was presented in White House ceremonies by President Harry S. Truman on 14 June 1946. Lieutenant Leims subsequently served in the Marine Corps Reserve, was promoted to Captain in 1956 and retired in the summer of 1962. John H. Leims died at Conroe, Texas on 28 June 1985 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

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Photo #: NH 103905

Second Lieutenant John H. Leims, USMCR

Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 217.
John H. Leims received the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" on 7 March 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 61KB; 630 x 765 pixels


Medal of Honor citation of Second Lieutenant John Harold Leims, USMCR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 217):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company B, First Battalion, Ninth Marines, THIRD Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 7 March 1945. Launching a surprise attack against the rock-imbedded fortifications of a dominating Japanese hill position, Second Lieutenant Leims spurred his company forward with indomitable determination and, skillfully directing his assault platoons against the cave-emplaced enemy troops and heavily fortified pillboxes, succeeded in capturing the objective in the late afternoon. When it became apparent that his assault platoons were cut off in this newly won position, approximately 400 yards forward of the adjacent units and lacked all communication with the command post, he personally advanced and laid telephone lines across the isolating expanse of open, fire-swept terrain. Ordered to withdraw his command after he had joined his forward platoons, he immediately complied, adriotly effecting the withdrawal of his troops without incident. Upon arriving at the rear, he was informed that several casualties had been left at the abandoned ridge position beyond the front lines. Although suffering acutely from the strain and exhaustion of battle, he instantly went forward despite darkness and the slashing fury of hostile machine-gun fire, located and carried to safety one seriously wounded Marine and then, running the gantlet of enemy fire for the third time that night, again made his tortuous way into the bullet- ridden death trap and rescued another of his wounded men. A dauntless leader, concerned at all times for the welfare of his men, Second Lieutenant Leims soundly maintained the coordinated strength of his battle-wearied company under extremely difficult conditions and, by his bold tactics, sustained aggressiveness and heroic disregard of all personal danger, contributed essentially to the success of his division's operations against this vital Japanese base. His valiant conduct in the face of fanatic opposition sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

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Page made 16 July 2006