Sgt. William G. Fournier, Medal of Honor, US Army, WW II
Sgt. William G. Fournier, Medal of Honor, US Army, WW II

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.   William Grant Fournier was born on June 21, 1913, in Norwich, Connecticut.  He  joined the Army in  Winterport, Maine in September 1940.  Three years later he was far removed from his home town of Winterport, where the temperature in the winter often fell below zero, to the hot and humid jungles of Guadalcanal where the temperature never fell below 70 degrees and the humidity was seldom lower than 70 per cent.

Fournier  by January 10, 1943 was serving as a Sergeant in Company M, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He was leader of a machinegun section charged with the protection of other battalion units.  During a Japanese attack on that day, at Mount Austen, Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands, by a superior number of Japanese, his gunner was killed, his assistant gunner wounded, and an adjoining gun crew put out of action

He refused an order to withdraw after many men in his unit had been killed or wounded and, with fellow soldier Technician Fifth Grade Lewis Hall, stayed behind in this hazardous position to man an idle machine gun. They held up the machinegun by the tripod to increase its field action, opened fire and inflicted heavy casualties upon the enemy. This action saved many of their colleague’s lives.

While so engaged, both these gallant soldiers were killed, but their sturdy defensive was a decisive factor in the following success of the attacking battalion. Hall was killed at the gun, while Fournier was badly wounded and died three days later. Both men were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on June 5, 1943.

Medal of Honor (Posthumous)

Citation (G.O. No.: 28, 5 June 1943):
For gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. As leader of a machinegun section charged with the protection of other battalion units, his group was attacked by a superior number of Japanese, his gunner killed, his assistant gunner wounded, and an adjoining gun crew put out of action. Ordered to withdraw from this hazardous position, Sgt. Fournier refused to retire but rushed forward to the idle gun and, with the aid of another soldier who joined him [Lewis Hall], held up the machinegun by the tripod to increase its field action. They opened fire and inflicted heavy casualties upon the enemy. While so engaged both these gallant soldiers were killed, but their sturdy defensive was a decisive factor in the following success of the attacking battalion.

 

Sergeant William Grant Fournier is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific , Honolulu Hawaii, USA, Plot: Section C, Grave 462

 

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