Douglas Thomas Jacobson MOH

b. 25/11/1925 Rochester, New York. d. 20/08/2000 Punta Gorda, Florida.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 26/02/1945 Hill 382, Iwo Jima, Japan.

Douglas T Jacobson MOH

acobson was born Nov. 25, 1925, in Rochester, New York, but moved with his parents to Port Washington on Long Island when he was still a baby. He was an only child. Jacobson attended high school, but he left before graduating to work as a draftsman for his father, Hans, who was a carpenter. He also worked as a lifeguard. By 1942, World War II was raging, and he wanted to serve. Jacobson enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in January 1943 at the age of 17.

By December 1943, Jacobson was a private first class on active duty who had been transferred to the Pacific war zone as part of the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. He spent the next year battling in campaigns in the Marshall and Marianas islands. But the biggest fight of his life — and that of many Marines — was still to come.

On February 19, 1945 Jacobson and about 70,000 other Marines stormed ashore on tiny Iwo Jima, an 8-square-mile island made of volcanic ash. Iwo Jima was crucial to the allies because its airfields were necessary for U.S. bombers to be within striking range of Japan’s mainland. Once the fight began, it didn’t let up for more than a month.

On February 26, 1945, Jacobson’s Company I was called upon to assault Japanese defenses on Hill 382, the highest point north of Mount Suribachi that was used for field artillery and anti-tank positions. According to his Medal of Honor citation, it was the heart of Japan’s cross-island defense.

When the company’s anti-tank missile gunner was killed, Jacobson grabbed the man’s bazooka and destroyed an enemy 20 mm antiaircraft gun and its crew. The bazooka was a weapon meant for use by two people, but Jacobson managed to use it with deadly accuracy by himself when his platoon was pinned down by heavy enemy fire. He destroyed two enemy machine gun positions, neutralized a large observation fortification known as a blockhouse, then he took out the five-man crew of a pillbox before blowing up the bunker.

Jacobson kept moving up the hill, wiping out a hidden rifle emplacement. When he realized there was a cluster of similar emplacements near him making up the perimeter of the enemy’s defenses, he continued forward anyway. He was able to take out all six guns and 10 enemy fighters, which allowed allied forces to take over the position. Jacobson wasn’t done, though. He was determined to widen the allied breach of Japanese defenses, so he volunteered to help an adjacent assault company. He neutralized a pillbox that had pinned down the company, then he opened fire on an enemy tank that had been raining gunfire on an allied tank. Jacobson then smashed the enemy tank’s gun turret and singlehandedly subdued another blockhouse.

With his fearless actions, Jacobson destroyed 16 enemy positions and took out about 75 enemy fighters. Hill 382 was finally captured by the allies after four days, and Jacobson’s efforts were an essential contribution to that victory. The Battle of Iwo Jima didn’t end until May 26, 1945, and it was the bloodiest in Marine Corps history. Aside from Jacobson, 26 other Marines and sailors earned the nation’s top honor for valor for their actions.

After Iwo Jima, Jacobson was promoted to corporal. When the war ended a few months later, he returned to the U.S. and was assigned to Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He received the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1945, from President Harry S. Truman during a White House ceremony. Thirteen other men received the award that day, including fellow Marines Cpl. Hershel Williams and Lt. Col. Gregory Boyington.

Jacobson was discharged from the Marines in December 1945 but reenlisted the following April. He was discharged again in 1949 and spent a few years as a civilian before rejoining again in 1953. At that point, he went to Officer Candidates School to earn his commission, which he received in March 1954.

Jacobson was assigned to Camp Pendleton, California, before being sent to Japan, where he commanded a company of the 9th Marines. He met his wife, Joan, while he was there. According to a 2000 article in the Newsday newspaper out of Melville, New York, she was working for the Defense Department in Okinawa as a schoolteacher. They married in 1962 and had three daughters.

When the couple returned to the states, Jacobson spent several years serving at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. He went back to Okinawa for a stint before retiring out of LeJeune as a major in 1967. Before he did so, however, he completed one more milestone: he earned the high school diploma he never got as a teen.

Jacobson lived in New Jersey and sold real estate for many years before moving his family to Florida in 1987. His wife said he rarely talked about the war unless someone asked him about it. However, in those later years, he did spend time talking with schools and veterans’ groups, and he remained active in the veteran community.

Jacobson died August 20, 2000, at a hospital in Port Charlotte, Florida, not far from his home in North Port. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3d Battalion, 23d Marines, 4th Marine Division, in combat against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 26 February 1945. Promptly destroying a stubborn 20-mm antiaircraft gun and its crew after assuming the duties of a bazooka man who had been killed, Pfc. Jacobson waged a relentless battle as his unit fought desperately toward the summit of Hill 382 in an effort to penetrate the heart of Japanese cross-island defense. Employing his weapon with ready accuracy when his platoon was halted by overwhelming enemy fire on 26 February, he first destroyed two hostile machine-gun positions, then attacked a large blockhouse, completely neutralizing the fortification before dispatching the five-man crew of a second pillbox and exploding the installation with a terrific demolitions blast. Moving steadily forward, he wiped out an earth-covered rifle emplacement and, confronted by a cluster of similar emplacements which constituted the perimeter of enemy defenses in his assigned sector, fearlessly advanced, quickly reduced all six positions to a shambles, killed 10 of the enemy, and enabled our forces to occupy the strongpoint. Determined to widen the breach thus forced, he volunteered his services to an adjacent assault company, neutralized a pillbox holding up its advance, opened fire on a Japanese tank pouring a steady stream of bullets on one of our supporting tanks, and smashed the enemy tank’s gun turret in a brief but furious action culminating in a singlehanded assault against still another blockhouse and the subsequent neutralization of its firepower. By his dauntless skill and valor, Pfc. Jacobson destroyed a total of 16 enemy positions and annihilated approximately 75 Japanese, thereby contributing essentially to the success of his division’s operations against this fanatically defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His gallant conduct in the face of tremendous odds enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.