John Basilone was born in Buffalo, New York, on 4 November 1916. Educated in Raritan, New Jersey, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1936, serving for more than two years in the Philippines before leaving that service in 1939. In July of the following year he joined the Marine Corps. During 1940-1942, while rising in rank to Corporal and Sergeant, he served at posts in the eastern U.S. and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In September 1942 Sgt. Basilone landed on the southern Pacific island of Guadalcanal to participate in the ongoing campaign to hold the airfield there against Japanese attempts to recapture it. On the night of 24-25 October 1942, during a vigorous enemy assault on the Marines' defensive perimeter, he was responsible for a section of machine guns. His "extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry" in keeping his guns in action in the face of heavy attacks contributed greatly to the failure of the Japanese offensive and was recognized by the award of the Medal of Honor.
Following his service on Guadalcanal, Basilone was assigned to U.S. Marine units in California and at the Washington Navy Yard, D.C.. Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was killed in action during the February 1945 invasion of Iwo Jima.
The destroyer Basilone (DD-824, later DDE-824 and DD-824), 1949-1982, was named in honor of Gunnery Sergeant Basilone.
This page features the only view we have concerning Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, USMC.