Aug 21 , 2021
Billy Bad Ass of the day, John Basilone, killed 38 enemy with a machete, machine gun, pistol and his bare damn hands:
On the night of October 24, 1942, in the jungles of Guadalcanal, a Japanese regiment numbering 3,000 men attacked the line, hammering the Marines with grenades and mortar fire. After one of the gun crews was disabled by enemy fire, with total disregard for his own life, Basilone carried about 90 pounds of weaponry and ammunition to the silenced gun pit, running a distance of 200 yards through enemy fire and encountering Japanese soldiers along the route, who he killed with his Colt .45 pistol. Basilone continued running back and forth between gun pits, supplying ammunition to those desperately in need and clearing gun jams for his junior Marines.
During the height of the battle, Basilone barehanded the searing barrel of his machine gun without hesitation and continued putting rounds downrange, killing an entire wave of Japanese soldiers and burning his hands and arms in the process.
Enemy bodies were (literally) piling up so rapidly that he — or other Marines, depending on the story — had to vacate their defensive positions to knock over the growing wall of flesh so they could reestablish clear fields of fire.
An entire Japanese regiment was thwarted by the gun crews, and by the time reinforcements arrived, only Basilone and two other Marines were left standing. Basilone used his crews’ machine guns, his pistol and a machete to kill at least 38 enemy soldiers by himself.
Pfc. Nash W. Phillips was with Basilone on Guadalcanal and recounted the other-worldly efforts of his sergeant.
“Basilone had a machine gun on the go for three days and nights without sleep, rest or food,” said Phillips, who lost a hand in the fight.
While receiving medical treatment, Phillips recalled Basilone’s mythical appearance as he came to to check on him.
“He was barefooted and his eyes were red as fire,” he said. “His face was dirty black from gunfire and lack of sleep. His shirt sleeves were rolled up to his shoulders. He had a .45 tucked into the waistband of his trousers. He'd just dropped by to see how I was making out; me and the others in the section. I’ll never forget him. He’ll never be dead in my mind!”
Basilone would go on to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Guadalcanal. He returned to the U.S. to assist the war bond effort — and was offered a commission and the chance to spend the rest of the war in Washington.
He turned the offer down, forgoing the public attention being a war hero yielded and opting instead to return to combat.
On February 19, 1945, Basilone stormed Red Beach on Iwo Jima. Pinned down by enemy machine gun fire, he led his gunners up the steep black sand, kicking his inexperienced Marines to get off the beach as they hugged the ground for cover.
Minutes after destroying a Japanese blockhouse, Basilone and four members of his platoon were killed when an enemy artillery shell exploded. He was 28 years old.
Gunnery Sgt. Basilone would be posthumously awarded the the Purple Heart and the Navy Cross for his actions on Iwo.