Captain Everett P. Pope, USMC (September 19-20, 1944)

Everett Parker Pope was born on July 16, 1919 in Milton, Massachusetts. He moved with his family to North Quincy and was a member of the North Quincy High School’s class of 1936. He then attended Bowdoin College in Maine. After graduating with honors in 1941, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

1st Marine Division insignia (Wikimedia Commons)

He went to Officer Candidates School and received a commission as a Second Lieutenant on November 1, 1941. He was posted to the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and with them deployed for combat in the Pacific in June 1942 with the 1st Marine Division.

He was a machine gun platoon leader when the Marines stormed Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. By the time of the landings on Cape Gloucester, Pope had been promoted to Captain and was the commander of 1/1 Marines’ Company C. He was still Company C’s commanding officer when they landed on Peleliu on September 15, 1944. Their strength: 235 Marines.

By the time Captain Pope was ordered to take Hill 100 on Peleliu on September 19, Company C was down to 90 men. They attacked. They seized the hill at great cost. Just twenty-four of Pope’s Marines made it to the top. They held the hill through the night, at times throwing chunks of coral at the attacking Japanese to make them think they had more grenades than they had left.

They held, and Company C’s commander received our nation’s highest honor for his valor in command.

From Medal of Honor Citations from World War II (M-S):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

POPE, EVERETT PARKER

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Peleliu Island, Palau group, 19-20 September 1944. Entered service at: Massachusetts

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau group, on 19-20 September 1944. Subjected to pointblank cannon fire which caused heavy casualties and badly disorganized his company while assaulting a steep coral hill, Capt. Pope rallied his men and gallantly led them to the summit in the face of machine gun, mortar, and sniper fire. Forced by widespread hostile attack to deploy the remnants of his company thinly in order to hold the ground won, and with his machineguns out of order and insufficient water and ammunition, he remained on the exposed hill with 12 men and 1 wounded officer determined to hold through the night. Attacked continuously with grenades, machine guns, and rifles from 3 sides, he and his valiant men fiercely beat back or destroyed the enemy, resorting to hand-to-hand combat as the supply of ammunition dwindled, and still maintaining his lines with his 8 remaining riflemen when daylight brought more deadly fire and he was ordered to withdraw. His valiant leadership against devastating odds while protecting the units below from heavy Japanese attack reflects the highest credit upon Capt. Pope and the U.S. Naval Service.

Pope was later promoted to Major in January 1945 and remained with the Marine Corps Reserve after World War II. He returned to active duty with the beginning of the Korean War, but was allowed to resign his commission before returning to combat. In civilian life, Pope was a banker and was the youngest bank president in New England when he rose to that post in 1953.

He passed away on his 90th birthday – July 16, 2009 – and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment is active today and is still a component of the 1st Marine Division. Their home station is Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California.

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