Wahlen, George E.
George Edward Wahlen was born on 8 August 1924 in Ogden, Utah. He enlisted as an Apprentice Seaman in the U.S. Naval Reserve from that state in June 1943 and received recruit training at Naval Training Station, San Diego. Wahlen was promoted to Seaman Second Class in July and received Hospital Corps Training at San Diego. Promoted to Hospital Apprentice First Class in November and Pharmacist's Mate Third Class that December, late in the year he was assigned to the Training Detachment, Field Medical School Battalion, Fleet Marine Force at Camp Elliott, San Diego. In February 1944, Wahlen left for overseas duty with the Fifth Marine Division. In November 1944, while serving in the Pacific, he was promoted to Pharmacist's Mate Second Class.
As a medical corpsman with the Second Battalion, Twenty-Sixth Marines, Fifth Marine Division, Wahlen participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima. On 26 February 1945, although wounded himself, Wahlen advanced forward of the front lines to help a wounded Marine and assisted casualties in an adjacent platoon, disregarding his own safety amidst concentrated gun and mortar fire. Wounded again on 2 March, he refused to leave the battlefield and on the following day moved with his company across 600 yards of open terrain in the face of heavy fire. He was helping others when he sustained a crippling third wound, but crawled 50 yards to administer aid to another fallen Marine. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life," he was awarded theMedal of Honor. On 5 October 1945 Wahlen was presented with the award by President Harry S. Truman during Nimitz Day ceremonies at the White House.
In December 1945, Pharmacist's Mate Second Class Wahlen was discharged from the Navy. He later joined the U.S. Army, served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and retired with the rank of Major. Following his military service, Major Wahlen worked for the Veterans Administration. He remains active in veterans affairs in his native state of Utah.
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