John J. Pinder, Jr. was born outside Pittsburgh in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania on June 6, 1912. When he was drafted into the United States Army on January 27, 1942, he was a minor league baseball player.
Pinder was a radioman, and his landing craft dumped him into the sea 100 yards from shore. As he struggled towards the beach with his heavy radio, he was wounded for the first time.
Communications was one of the many things that had broken down in the attack on Omaha Beach. Pinder ignored his own wounds and repeatedly ran back into the surf to retrieve additional radio components to try and get communications established between the forces fighting for their lives on the beach and the reinforcements offshore.
He refused all medical care or relief through a second set of wounds, up until he was killed by enemy fire. On January 4, 1945 he was posthumously decorated with the Medal of Honor.
*PINDER, JOHN J., JR.
Rank and organization: Technician Fifth Grade, U.S. Army, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, 6 June 1944. Entered service at: Burgettstown, Pa. G.O. No.: 1, 4 January 1945.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. On D-day, Technician 5th Grade Pinder landed on the coast 100 yards off shore under devastating enemy machinegun and artillery fire which caused severe casualties among the boatload. Carrying a vitally important radio, he struggled towards shore in waist-deep water. Only a few yards from his craft he was hit by enemy fire and was gravely wounded. Technician 5th Grade Pinder never stopped. He made shore and delivered the radio. Refusing to take cover afforded, or to accept medical attention for his wounds, Technician 5th Grade Pinder, though terribly weakened by loss of blood and in fierce pain, on 3 occasions went into the fire-swept surf to salvage communication equipment. He recovered many vital parts and equipment, including another workable radio. On the 3rd trip he was again hit, suffering machinegun bullet wounds in the legs. Still this valiant soldier would not stop for rest or medical attention. Remaining exposed to heavy enemy fire, growing steadily weaker, he aided in establishing the vital radio communication on the beach. While so engaged this dauntless soldier was hit for the third time and killed. The indomitable courage and personal bravery of Technician 5th Grade Pinder was a magnificent inspiration to the men with whom he served.
Pinder’s remains were repatriated to the United States and he was laid to rest in the Grandview Cemetery, Florence, Washington County, Pennsylvania.
Author’s note: this post was updated to reflect information from a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from June 5-6, 2014.