Martin O May MOH

b. 18/04/1922 Phillipsburg, New Jersey. d. 21/04/1945 Iegusuku-Yama, Japan.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 19-20/04/1945 Iegusuku-Yama, Japan.

Martin O May MOH

Born and raised in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, May graduated from Phillipsburg High School in the class of 1941.

May joined the Army from Phillipsburg in November 1942, and by April 19, 1945, was serving as a private first class in the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division. On that day and the next two days, at legusuku-Yama on Ie Shima in the Ryukyu Islands during the Battle of Okinawa, he manned his machine gun despite intense Japanese fire. He repeatedly refused to withdraw, even after being seriously wounded, and held his ground until being killed. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on January 25, 1946.



He gallantly maintained a three-day stand in the face of terrible odds when American troops fought for possession of the rugged slopes of Iegusuku-Yama on Ie-shima, Ryukyu Islands. After placing his heavy machine gun in an advantageous yet vulnerable position on a ridge to support riflemen, he became the target of fierce mortar and small-arms fire from the counterattacking Japanese. He repulsed this assault by sweeping the enemy with accurate bursts while explosions and ricocheting bullets threw blinding dust and dirt about him. He broke up a second counterattack by hurling grenades into the midst of the enemy forces, and then refused to withdraw, volunteering to maintain his post and cover the movement of American riflemen as they reorganized to meet any further hostile action. The major effort of the enemy did not develop until the morning of 21 April. It found Pfc. May still supporting the rifle company in the face of devastating rifle, machine-gun, and mortar fire. While many of the friendly troops about him became casualties, he continued to fire his machine gun until he was severely wounded and his gun rendered useless by the burst of a mortar shell. Refusing to withdraw from the violent action, he blasted fanatical Japanese troops with hand grenades until wounded again, this time mortally. By his intrepidity and the extreme tenacity with which he held firm until death against overwhelming forces, Pfc. May killed at least 16 Japanese, was largely responsible for maintaining the American lines, and inspired his comrades to efforts which later resulted in complete victory and seizure of the mountain stronghold.