2d Bn, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Div.
Iwo Jima
15 and 16 March 1945

You might not expect a Pharmacist’s Mate to end up in combat, but on the 15th and 16th pierceof March 1945, Francis Pierce answered the call of duty volunteering for the most dangerous missions.  Pierce gained valuable knowledge of the terrain and disposition of troops

Pierce was caught in heavy enemy rifle and machinegun fire, which also wounded a corpsman and 2 of the eight stretcher-bearers who were carrying two wounded marines to a forward aid station.  Pierce quickly took charge of the party, carried the newly wounded men to a sheltered position, and rendered first aid.

Pierce then stood in the open with his weapon blasting to draw the enemy’s fire, thus shifting their focus to him, allowing the litter bearers to reach cover. He turned his attention to two other wounded Marines and was attempting to stop the bleeding on one of the Marines when a Japanese sniper wounded his patient again.

Risking his own, Pierce deliberately exposed himself to draw the attacker from killed him with the last of his ammunition. PM1 Pierce lifted the wounded Marine onto his back and carried him across 200 feet of open terrain, through a barrage of enemy rifle fire, delivering him to the aid station.

Despite his own exhaustion, he again traversed the same fire-swept path to rescue the remaining Marine.

The following day, PM1 Pierce took command of a squad and led a combat patrol to engage and destroy the enemy sniper nest. One of his men was wounded. Pierce rushed to the stricken Marine again, exposing himself to enemy fire to administer medical aid. The enemy focused their fire on the young Marine, and he was again wounded. Refusing aid for himself, PM1 Pierce directed treatment for the casualty, engaging the enemy at the same time, providing covering fire for his comrades.

The last line of PM1 Pierce’s MOH citation puts it this way:

“Completely fearless, completely devoted to the care of his patients, Pierce inspired the entire battalion. His valor in the face of extreme peril sustains and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”

PM1 Pierce survived the war and made that last muster on 21 Dec 1986; he was 62 yrs old.


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