Private First Class Harold Glenn Epperson, USMCR (June 25, 1944)

enter Harold Glenn Epperson was born in Akron, Ohio on July 14, 1923. He was employed by Goodyear in Akron when he volunteered for the United States Marine Corps Reserve on December 12, 1942. After training, he was placed with the active United States Marine Corps in the 1st Battalion 6th Marine Regiment, part of the 2nd Marine Division. During the battle for Saipan in the Marianas Islands on June 25, 1944, Epperson was instrumental in beating back a determined Japanese counter-attack with his machine gun when an enemy soldier thought dead flung a grenade into his position. To save the lives of his fellow Marines, he smothered the deadly blast with his own body and was later posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor. From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (A-F):


Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 2d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Saipan in the Marianas, on 25 June 1944. With his machine gun emplacement bearing the full brunt of a fanatic assault initiated by the Japanese under cover of predawn darkness, Pfc. Epperson manned his weapon with determined aggressiveness, fighting furiously in the defense of his battalion’s position and maintaining a steady stream of devastating fire against rapidly infiltrating hostile troops to aid materially in annihilating several of the enemy and in breaking the abortive attack. Suddenly a Japanese soldier, assumed to be dead, sprang up and hurled a powerful hand grenade into the emplacement. Determined to save his comrades, Pfc. Epperson unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and, diving upon the deadly missile, absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his own body. Stouthearted and indomitable in the face of certain death, Pfc. Epperson fearlessly yielded his own life that his able comrades might carry on the relentless battle against a ruthless enemy. His superb valor and unfaltering devotion to duty throughout reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Epperson was initially buried in the 2nd Marine Division Cemetery on Saipan. After the war, his remains were repatriated to the United States and laid to their final rest in the Winchester Cemetery, Winchester, Kentucky.

The Gearing-class destroyer USS Epperson (DD-719) was named in the young Marine’s honor and served with the United States Navy from 1949 to 1976.

1st Battalion 6th Marines is still a component of the present-day 2nd Marine Division. Their home is Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The battalion is currently deployed as the ground combat element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in the United States Central Command area of responsibility.


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