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220217-N-N1526-009

On February 28, 1945, while serving on Iwo Jima, Pharmacist's Mate First Class John Harlan Willis was 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. He 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 frontlines under mortar and sniper fire to aid a Marine lying wounded in a shellhole. 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, Pharmacist's Mate First Class Willis inspired his companions, although terrifically outnumbered, to launch a fiercely determined attack and repulse the enemy force. Willis was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He is one of four hospital corpsmen to receive the Medal of Honor for actions on Iwo Jima.

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