Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Marine Corps

William James Bordelon

  • Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    tactically attached to the1st Battalion, 18th Marines,
    2d Marine Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: November 20, 1943
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Tarawa, Gilbert Islands
For valorous and gallant conduct above and beyond the call of duty as a member of an assault engineer platoon of the 1st Battalion, 18th Marines, tactically attached to the 2d Marine Division, in action against the Japanese-held atoll of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, 20 November 1943. Landing in the assault waves under withering enemy fire which killed all but four of the men in his tractor, SSgt. Bordelon Hurriedly made demolition charges and personally put two pillboxes out of action. Hit by enemy machine-gun fire just as a charge exploded in his hand while assaulting a third position, he courageously remained in action and, although out of demolition, provided himself with a rifle and furnished fire coverage for a group of men scaling the seawall. Disregarding his own serious condition, he unhesitatingly went to the aid of one of his demolition men, wounded and calling for help in the water, rescuing this man and another who had been hit by enemy fire while attempting to make the rescue. Still refusing first aid for himself, he again made up demolition charges and singlehandedly assaulted a fourth Japanese machine-gun position, but was instantly killed when caught in a final burst of fire from the enemy. SSgt. Bordelon's great personal valor during a critical phase of securing the limited beachhead was a contributing factor in the ultimate occupation of the island, and his heroic determination throughout three days of violent battle reflects the highest credit upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Medal of Honor Recipient William J. Bordelon
Medal of Honor Recipient William J. Bordelon
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Texas
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: June 1944
    Alamo Stadium, Texas, presented by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt to his parents
  • Born: December 25, 1920, San Antonio, Bexar County, TX, United States
  • Died: November 20, 1943, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands
  • Buried: Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (MH) (A1-538); reinterred in 1995 from National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (A-481) (MH), Honolulu, Hawaii, San Antonio, TX, United States
  • Location of Medal: National Museum of the Pacific War, Fredericksburg, TX

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