Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Leims, John H.

Leims, John H.

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Captain, 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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