Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Major Everett Parker Pope, USMC

Major Everett P. Pope was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry on Peleliu in September 1944 while leading his men in an assault on a strategic hill, and for holding it, with rocks and bare fists when ammunition ran low, against Japanese suicide attacks.

On 20 September 1944, Major Pope and his company set out to storm Hill 154, a steep, barren, coral hill protruding from the face of Suicide Ridge, according to a field dispatch from Technical Sergeant Joseph L. Alli of Buffalo, New York, a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent.

From almost point blank range, Japanese mortars and field guns opened up on them from adjoining peaks on Suicide Ridge. Major Pope and his men took Hill 154 at dusk after hours of bloody fighting which nearly decimated the group.

Forced to deploy his men thinly, he nevertheless determined to hold his ground for the night. Immediately after darkness fell the Japanese started to attack, first in small infiltrating bands, and, when these units failed, in groups of 20 to 25 who tried storming the hill.

Each time, the Marines opened fire with everything they had - one light machine gun, several Tommy guns and rifles, and a limited supply of hand grenades. When the grenades ran low, they hurled rocks. "We would throw three or four rocks, then a grenade. The Japanese didn't know which were which," one Marine said.

By sunrise the Marines were beating off the enemy with bare fists and hurling ammunition boxes at them. Finally only eight riflemen remained. When daylight brought deadly fire, Major Pope was ordered to withdraw.

Major Pope was born 16 July 1919 in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence E. Pope, who later moved to North Quincy, Massachusetts. He was graduated with honor from North Quincy High School in 1936. In June 1941, he received his BS degree upon graduation from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, where he was captain of the tennis team. He was graduated magna cum laude, with honors in French, and designated a Phi Beta Kappa.

On 1 November 1941, Major Pope was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He trained at Quantico, Virginia, and New River, North Carolina, prior to going overseas in June 1942 with the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. On 7 August 1942, as the leader of a machine gun platoon, he participated in the landing and action at Guadalcanal.

In 1943, he was transferred to Melbourne, Australia, with his unit. Later, he again went into combat, as a company commander with the 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, in the Cape Gloucester, New Britain campaign, from December 1943 to April 1944. In the mopping-up operations which followed, he led a 14-man patrol which in one day killed 20 and captured 7 of the enemy during a 12-mile trek over jungle trails.

From 12 September to 30, 1944, he took part in action in the Peleliu campaign during which he earned the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. Although wounded in action on 20 September he returned to duty the next day, and remained overseas until November 1944.

He was promoted to major in January 1945 and assigned for one year as a student in the Japanese language course at Yale University. On 16 July 1946, he was assigned an inactive duty status in the Marine Corps, and returned to his home and private employment in Massachusetts. There he became affiliated with the Marine Corps Reserve and commanded the 2d Infantry Battalion, USMCR, Hingham, Massachusetts, until August 1950, when he was called to active duty with his battalion upon the outbreak of the Korean Conflict. He served as Executive Officer of the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until September 1951, when he was released to inactive duty and, shortly thereafter, resigned his commission in the Marine Corps.

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Peleliu Island, Palau group, 19-20 September 1944. Entered service at: Massachusetts. Born: 16 July 1919, Milton, Mass. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau group, on 19-20 September 1944. Subjected to pointblank cannon fire which caused heavy casualties and badly disorganized his company while assaulting a steep coral hill, Capt. Pope rallied his men and gallantly led them to the summit in the face of machinegun, mortar, and sniper fire. Forced by widespread hostile attack to deploy the remnants of his company thinly in order to hold the ground won, and with his machineguns out of order and insufficient water and ammunition, he remained on the exposed hill with 12 men and 1 wounded officer determined to hold through the night. Attacked continuously with grenades, machineguns, and rifles from 3 sides, he and his valiant men fiercely beat back or destroyed the enemy, resorting to hand-to-hand combat as the supply of ammunition dwindled, and still maintaining his lines with his 8 remaining riflemen when daylight brought more deadly fire and he was ordered to withdraw. His valiant leadership against devastating odds while protecting the units below from heavy Japanese attack reflects the highest credit upon Capt. Pope and the U.S. Naval Service .