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This Is Why We Stand: Corporal Charles J. Berry


27 individuals were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Corporal Charles J. Berry was one of those men. Berry served with the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division. On the night of March 3, 1945, Cpl. Berry was a part of a gun crew stationed in the front lines. Shortly after midnight, Japanese soldiers launched a surprise attack, attempting to overrun the American position. According to Berry’s Medal of Honor citation, “He engaged in a pitched hand grenade duel, returning the dangerous weapons with prompt and deadly accuracy.” During the fighting, a grenade directly landed in the foxhole that Berry and his comrades were in. Cpl. Berry immediately threw himself on top of the grenade to absorb the explosion. In sacrificing himself, Berry had saved the lives of his fellow Marines. When it came time to act, he selflessly gave his life for his country. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his undaunted courage and ultimate sacrifice. His memory will live on forever in the form of our flag. We stand for Charles Berry and we fulfill our duty to him by remembering his name and story forever.

Raising the flag on Iwo Jima. (Photo: iwojima.com)

Full Medal of Honor citation: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as member of a machinegun crew, serving with the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, on 3 March 1945. Stationed in the front lines, Corporal. Berry manned his weapon with alert readiness as he maintained a constant vigil with other members of his guncrew during the hazardous night hours. When infiltrating Japanese soldiers launched a surprise attack shortly after midnight in an attempt to overrun his position, he engaged in a pitched hand grenade duel, returning the dangerous weapons with prompt and deadly accuracy until an enemy grenade landed in the foxhole. Determined to save his comrades, he unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and immediately dived on the deadly missile, absorbing the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his own body and protecting the others from serious injury. Stouthearted and indomitable, Corporal. Berry fearlessly yielded his own life that his fellow marines might carry on the relentless battle against a ruthless enemy and his superb valor and unfaltering devotion to duty in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."

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