REAL LOYALTY – Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John H. Willis, USN, WWII, Medal of Honor (1921-1945)

Pharmacist's Mate First Class John H. Willis, posthumous Medal of Honor
article top
Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John H. Willis, posthumous Medal of Honor

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.   John Harlan Willis was born on 10 June 1921 in Columbia, Tennessee. Following graduation from high school, in November 1940 he enlisted  as an Apprentice Seaman in the U.S. Navy. After completing his recruit training at Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia and his advanced corpsman training, at the Norfolk Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia, Willis was promoted to Seaman, Second Class in March 1941. For a short time he was assigned to the Naval Hospital, Parris Island South Carolina. In August 1941 Willis was transferred to the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida.

Willis served with Naval Operating Base Units in Jacksonville, organizing and training units for overseas service. In July 1943 he was promoted to Pharmacist’s Mate First Class. That  November he was assigned to the Training Detachment, Field Medical School Battalion, Fleet Marine Force Training Center at Camp Elliot, San Diego, California.  He was transferred in early 1944 to Headquarters Company, Third Battalion, Twenty-seventh Marines, Fifth Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California.


With his unit, he participated as a Platoon Corpsman in the battle of Iwo Jima. On 28 February 1945, Willis found himself assigned as a Platoon Corpsman in the battle of Iwo Jima.  While aiding fallen Marines during a fierce action near Japanese-held Hill 362, he was wounded and ordered back to the battle-aid station. Disregarding his injuries, Willis returned to the battle area to resume casualty assistance. He was helping a wounded Marine when the enemy attacked with hand grenades. After throwing eight grenades back at the enemy, he was killed when one exploded in his hand. For his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life”, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

For those men and women in the Navy Hospital Corps John H. Willis  is a fellow “doc” whose face can be seen on Medal of Honor walls at all Navy hospitals and clinics. He is the World War II hospital corpsman who saved the lives of wounded Marines before losing his own on the ash-sand Tartarus that was Iwo Jima. Certainly, a life can never be replaced. And in the military a lost life can only be honored.
Official Navy photographs of the ceremony on December 3rd 1945 show Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal presenting the Medal to John Willis’s young wife (Winfrey) and her 7-month old son (John Jr.). They are flanked by a visibly grieving woman (Winfrey’s aunt Mrs. H.A. Morel) and an elderly man (Willis’s grandfather Austin Harlan). It is a heartfelt scene that reveals the incredible weight that the Medal of Honor carries. As a symbol, the Medal of Honor represents heroism and valor, but, also, in this particular case, the death and lost potential of a 23-year-old man. It is meaning and memory in the form of brass alloy and a blue ribbon of cotton. One does not wear or hold the Medal as much as they carry the profound burden it can symbolize.

Mrs. Winfrey Willis, wife, with Willis’ son John Jr. receiving posthumous Medal of Honor from Sect. of Navy James Forrestal.

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



for service as set forth in the following


“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Platoon Corpsman serving with the Third Battalion, Twenty-seventh Marines, FIFTH Marine Division, during operations against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 28 February 1945. Constantly imperiled by artillery and mortar fire from strong and mutually supporting pillboxes and caves studding Hill 362 in the enemy’s cross-island defenses, WILLIS resolutely administered first aid to the many Marines wounded during the furious close-in fighting until he himself was struck by shrapnel and was ordered back to the battle-aid station. Without waiting for official medical release, he quickly returned to his company and, during a savage hand-to-hand enemy counterattack, daringly advanced to the extreme front lines under mortar and sniper fire to aid a Marine lying wounded in a shell-hole. Completely unmindful of his own danger as the Japanese intensified their attack, WILLIS calmly continued to administer blood plasma to his patient, promptly returning the first hostile grenade which landed in the shell-hole while he was working and hurling back seven more in quick succession before the ninth one exploded in his hand and instantly killed him. By his great personal valor in saving others at the sacrifice of his own life, he inspired his companions, although terrifically outnumbered, to launch a fiercely determined attack and repulse the enemy force. His exceptional fortitude and courage in the performance of duty reflect the highest credit upon WILLIS and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.” 



Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John H. Willis is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, Columbia, Tennessee.

Over the years I have written hundreds of articles about heroes, many who have received this country’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.  Doing the research for these articles I am always looking for some kind of common thread between them.  So far I have not been very successful.  Our heroes are a mixed bag.  Every color, creed and age.  They have come from every state and territory of this country. 


If there is a commonality between our heroes that I have been able to identify it would be loyalty.  Not just loyalty to a person or organization but loyalty to an ideal, loyalty to doing the right thing, regardless of the cost. 


Some of my associates have accused me of being naïve to believe in honor and friendship and loyalty without price. But these are virtues to be cherished, for without them we are no more than beasts roaming the land. 


Loyalty cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart — the center of self-respect and human dignity. It is a force which leaps into being only when conditions are exactly right for it — and it is a force very sensitive to betrayal.  At times there can be a cost, recently someone that I would have taken a bullet for was the one pulling the trigger.  It hurt but I will get over it and still have my strong sense of loyalty and my character remains intact.

On a personal note, this is my last article written whilst an employee of the Federal Government.  Retirement has come and I am looking forward to writing many of these articles from my boat as I cruise the Hawaiian waters.  They will also be broadcast weekly on the Gerard Media Network.  Hopefully being free of any government censorship I will not only be able to tug at your heartstrings but to also share some truths with you that might challenge your current beliefs about how our Government works.

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.





  1. brothel manager BrothelManager is an online, social, multiplayer adult game! Have you ever wondered how it would be to run your very own Brothel? Hire the world's oldest profession workers, control how they earn money, learn new skills and win contests by competing with other players. Start managing your workers and brothel today – for FREE! visit site

  2. vocal spray Introducing Oxy Bump's Oxygen-Homeopathic Line of Products! In 1996, the founders of Oxy Bump Corporation were the first in the world to source the healing power of oxygen for holistic health to remedy a variety of health challenges. Today, our mission continues with a complete range of safe, holistic oxygenated saline solutions to tackle everything from sinus congestion to coughs, sore throats and even allergies! Please click here web

  3. smithyescortlover Adult connections , world known escort directory are known for there massive selection of all ethnic origin girls and guys. They have the most up to date systems for clients and safety for escorts as well, such as map tracker with a 24 hour team monitoring movements. So if you want to feel safe and discreet whilst using these sort of services choose ''adult connections'' as the number one choice for pleasure. These days adult connections is going old school and actually escorting gentlemen and women around towns and cities instead of jumping rite to sexual pleasures. Escorting should be escorting as the CEO of A-connections says. Please open my web

  4. Oh wow its really good to know about medal of honor and specially when you were looking to know about it from a long time and now with geometry dash 2.0 apk its easy for me to connect my readers to this.

  5. adult shop Welcome to "VAT International Pty Ltd" – Virgin Adult Toys a 100% Australian owned company located in Sydney with a Mission to Deliver a Sex-Positive Healthy Lifestyle to all Australians (and the world!). If you are looking for a new, exciting addition for your bedroom then you are in the right place. We supply the finest adult toys and sex toys to satisfy customers all over Australia (and the world!)

    Safe & eco-friendly

    We are a Trusted 100% Proudly Australian owned Online Adult Shop- Adult Toys retailer. Our adult products are earth friendly and strictly tested by Australian Law to maintain a 100% high-quality benchmark standards for your health, safety and wellbeing. Our adult products are sourced from the finest manufacturers meaning our customers can feel safe in the knowledge that all our adult toys and sex toys are medically safe and certified. This is why we only sell 100% Phthalate Free products.

    Customers Come First

    Customer service is of paramount importance at "VAT International Pty Ltd" – Virgin Adult Toys (9am- 6pm AEST Monday- Friday Live Chat Support and 1300 853 808 Phone Orders/ Phone Support). We want you to enjoy the very best online experience possible with us! We guarantee your privacy and security by providing an SSL 256 bit certified and protected secured Paypal payment gateway, also we go the extra step performing daily security audits & never store credit card details from you. We guaranteed discreet billing (Only "VAT International Pty Ltd" is mentioned on your credit card bills) and are delivered only by Australia Post with discreet packaging guaranteed. This is coupled with a hassle free return policy if you are not completely happy with our adult products. To ensure we deliver as we promised, we will update our blog weekly (Every Thursday 8:00am AEST) for you with the latest tips on how to improve your relationship and sexual well-being information helping you to achieve your sex positive healthy lifestyle you deserve no matter what age, which gender or sexual preference you choose we respect everyone here at VAT International Pty Ltd! Please visit

  6. Rebel-Mouse Lovetraction Lines: Simone Myers Reveals Weirdly Effective Verbal Techniques That Activate A Man’s “Protector Instinct”, Flip His Attraction And Attachment Switches, And Make Him Deeply Addicted To Pleasing You… Written for consumers by a consumer, this fan site includes a fun and informative Lovetraction Lines review, ebook FAQ, and PDF download guide that provides an insider's look at the program and answers frequently asked questions about Simone Myers' unique and highly popular relationship guide. Please visit page… …

Comments are closed.