Harold G. Epperson (MOH)
Harold Glenn Epperson was born 14 July 1923 in Akron, Ohio.
As a member of the 1st Battalion 6th Marines, Private First Class (PFC) Harold Glenn Epperson shared in the Presidential Unit Citation awarded his organization for its service at the Battle of Tarawa during World War II.
PFC Epperson died in action against the Japanese on Saipan on 25 June 1944 when he threw himself upon an enemy grenade in order to save the lives of his fellow Marines.
Epperson’s Medal of Honor was presented to his mother at rites on Wednesday, 4 July 1945 in Tiger Stadium, Massillon, Ohio.
The setting of the presentation was appropriate – the stadium, the Massillon High School Band and 8,500 of the townspeople among whom the 20-year-old hero spent his childhood and youth before entering military service. Born in Akron, Ohio, Epperson grew up in Massillon and graduated from Washington High School there in 1941. He was employed at Goodyear Aircraft in Akron before enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve on 12 December 1942.
The Medal of Honor was presented to PFC Epperson’s mother by Col. Norman E. True, Marine Corps officer of the 9th Naval District and commanding officer of the Marine Barracks at Great Lakes, Illinois. PFC Epperson’s parents, who moved to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, following their son’s death, elected to return to Massillon for the ceremonies because they felt their son “would have liked it that way.” The citation signed by President Harry S. Truman and a letter from Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps, were read by Col. True during the ceremony.
Initially buried in the 2nd Marine Division Cemetery on Saipan, Marianas Islands, PFC Epperson’s remains were re-interred in Winchester Cemetery, Winchester, Kentucky, in 1948 at the specific request of his parents.
MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 14 July 1923, Akron, Ohio. Accredited to: Ohio (Interred in Kentucky).
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 2d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Island of Saipan in the Marianas, on 25 June 1944. With his machinegun emplacement bearing the full brunt of a fanatic assault initiated by the Japanese under cover of predawn darkness, PFC. Epperson manned his weapon with determined aggressiveness, fighting furiously in the defense of his battalion’s position and maintaining a steady stream of devastating fire against rapidly infiltrating hostile troops to aid materially in annihilating several of the enemy and in breaking the abortive attack. Suddenly a Japanese soldier, assumed to be dead, sprang up and hurled a powerful hand grenade into the emplacement. Determined to save his comrades, PFC Epperson unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and, diving upon the deadly missile, absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his own body. Stouthearted and indomitable in the face of certain death, PFC Epperson fearlessly yielded his own life that his able comrades might carry on the relentless battle against a ruthless enemy. His superb valor and unfaltering devotion to duty throughout reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.