John William Meagher was born on December 5, 1917 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was still living there when he was drafted at age 24 into the United States Army for service in World War II on March 21, 1942.
Meagher was an infantryman with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 305th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division. The 77th, known as the “Statue of Liberty Division” for their shoulder patch, was activated just four days after Meagher’s draft date and trained extensively in the United States before heading for war in the Pacific in March, 1944. They fought in the campaigns on Guam and Leyte before joining the forces for the attack on Okinawa.
Seventy years ago today on June 19, 1945, Meagher climbed aboard a supporting tank and directed its fire while completely exposed. He then dismounted one of the tank’s machine guns and used it in a determined solo attack that ultimately saw him decorated with the Medal of Honor.
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company E, 305th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Ozato, Okinawa, 19 June 1945. Entered service at: Jersey City, N.J. G.O. No.: 60, 26 June 1946
Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. In the heat of the fight, he mounted an assault tank, and, with bullets splattering about him, designated targets to the gunner. Seeing an enemy soldier carrying an explosive charge dash for the tank treads, he shouted fire orders to the gunner, leaped from the tank, and bayoneted the charging soldier. Knocked unconscious and his rifle destroyed, he regained consciousness, secured a machinegun from the tank, and began a furious 1-man assault on the enemy. Firing from his hip, moving through vicious crossfire that ripped through his clothing, he charged the nearest pillbox, killing 6. Going on amid the hail of bullets and grenades, he dashed for a second enemy gun, running out of ammunition just as he reached the position. He grasped his empty gun by the barrel and in a violent onslaught killed the crew. By his fearless assaults T/Sgt. Meagher single-handedly broke the enemy resistance, enabling his platoon to take its objective and continue the advance.