Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

McCarthy, Joseph J.

McCarthy, Joseph J.

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Lieutenant Colonel, USMCR, (1911-1996)

Joseph Jeremiah McCarthy was born on 10 April 1911 in Chicago, Illinois. In February 1937, he enlisted in the Marine Corps from that state, serving four years. He reenlisted after the Pearl Harbor attack and in the summer of 1942 was discharged on order to accept an officer's commission. McCarthy was subsequently assigned to the Fourth Marine Division and in 1944 participated in the Marshalls and Marianas Campaigns.


Captain McCarthy took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima as Commanding Officer of a rifle company of the Second Battalion, Twenty-Fourth Marines, Fourth Marine Division. On 21 February 1945, when Japanese defenses held up his company's advance across the island, he fearlessly led an attack across hostile terrain to annihilate a series of enemy emplacements. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" at that time, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.


On 5 October 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented the medal to Captain McCarthy in ceremonies at the White House. Following World War II he remained in the Marine Corps Reserve, retiring in 1971 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In civilian life he was the Chicago Fire Department's Superintendent of Ambulances. Joseph J. McCarthy died on 15 June 1996 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virgina.


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