At dawn, reinforcements found this Marine resting his head at the edge of his pit. The line had held. Nearly 100 sprawled enemy dead were around his cut-off outpost. At least 38 enemy dead were credited to this Marine, many killed at arms length. The day was Oct. 24, 1942 and his name was Gunnery Sgt. Basilone. For his actions he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Upon returning to the United States, this Raritan, N.J. native traveled across the country on a war bond tour that prompted $1.4 million in pledges. He met Hollywood starlets and his picture even made the cover of Life magazine.
The Marine Corps offered to make him an officer and let him spend the rest of the war in Washington, but he reportedly turned them down stating, “I’m a plain soldier, and I want to stay one.”
After his war bond tour, Gunnery Sgt. Basilone requested to be reassigned to a gunner unit with the 27th Marines. He could have continued to sell war bonds or he could have even stayed back in the states. But this man instead chose to live his life as a Marine.
So he said farewell to his new wife, Lena Riggi, and joined the Fifth Division.