A Man Who Wouldn’t Quit – Gunnery Sergeant Robert Howard McCard, USMC, Medal of Honor, WWII (1918-1944)

GySgt Robert H McCard, USMC, Medal of Honor (1918-1944)
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GySgt Robert H McCard, USMC, Medal of Honor (1918-1944)

BY DUANE A. VACHON, Ph.D.  On 25 November 1918 a future Medal of Honor recipient was born in Syracuse New York:  Robert Howard McCard.   McCard earned letters in both football and baseball at his High School.  After leaving High School, McCard  worked as a bar tender at the Bear Mountain Inn in Iona, New York.  In mid-December 1939, he enlisted in the Marines.


When he completed his basic training, McCard was sent to Sea School.  His first assignment after completing Sea School was aboard the cruiser USS Tuscaloosa. While onboard the Tuscaloosa, McCard’s gun crew placed second in a competition with a five-inch anti-aircraft gun.

Promoted to private first class on 2 July 1940, he was temporarily made a sergeant and assigned to recruiting duty in May of 1941.

Assigned to the Central Recruiting District, McCard was sent to the recruiting office in Centralia, Illinois. He remained there until December 1941 when he was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.  His stay there was short – only four months.  He had reverted back to his rank of PFC when he left the recruiting office in Illinois.  His next posting was to Training Center at Quantico, Virginia, for a year. He was promoted to corporal in January 1943 and to sergeant in April of the same year. In April, he went to the 4th Tank Battalion of the 4th Marine Division, which was then being formed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It was with this organization that he was to earn the country’s highest award – and to lose his life.

McCard left the United States on 13 January 1944 and on 31 January landed at Kwajelein in the Marshall Islands. From then until 26 February he took part in the battles of Ennugaret, Ennumennett, and Namur Islands. Leaving the Marshalls, he went to the Hawaiian Islands for two months then sailed for Saipan. D-Day was 15 June 1944. On the 16th, GySgt McCard – he had made platoon sergeant and gunnery sergeant on two successive days in May while acting as platoon sergeant of a tank company – was participating in an advance when his tank was put out of action by a battery of Japanese 77 millimeter guns. Cut off from the rest of his platoon, GySgt McCard brought all his tank’s weapons to bear on the enemy but the intensity of the Japanese fire caused him to order his crew out the escape hatch. While they made their escape, the courageous tank commander hurled hand grenades at the enemy until his supply was exhausted. Severely wounded, GySgt McCard nevertheless dismantled one of the tank’s machine guns, then faced the enemy again and delivered such effective fire that he killed sixteen of the enemy before he himself was killed. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

He was buried in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery at Saipan, and later reinterred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in 1948. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in Washington D.C. by President Franklin D Roosevelt who presented to Medal of Honor to McCard’s family.

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Platoon Sergeant of Company A, Fourth Tank Battalion, Fourth Marine Division, during the battle for enemy Japanese-held Saipan, Mariana Islands, on June 16, 1944. Cut off from the other units of his platoon when his tank was put out of action by a battery of enemy 77-mm. guns, Gunnery Sergeant McCard carried on resolutely, bringing all the tank’s weapons to bear on the enemy, until the severity of hostile fire caused him to order his crew out the escape hatch while he courageously exposed himself to enemy guns by hurling hand grenades, in order to cover the evacuation of his men. Seriously wounded during this action and with his supply of grenades exhausted, Gunnery Sergeant McCard dismantled one of the Tank’s machine guns and faced the Japanese for the second time to deliver vigorous fire into positions, destroying sixteen of the enemy but sacrificing himself to ensure the safety of his crew. His valiant fighting spirit and supreme loyalty in the face of almost certain death reflect the highest credit upon Gunnery Sergeant McCard and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


Gunnery Sergeant Robert H. McCard is buried in section “B” grave number 1024 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu Hawaii.

The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external.  Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.