Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Henry T. Elrod
Alma, Ga.

Elrod was born on 27 September 1905, in Turner County, Georgia. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in December 1927, and was appointed a Marine second lieutenant in February 1931. He attended the University of Georgia and Yale University prior to his entry into the Marine Corps.

On December 4, 1941, Captain Elrod flew to Wake Island with twelve aircraft, twelve pilots, and the ground crew of Major Paul Putnam's VMF-211 fighter squadron. Hostilities in the air over Wake Island commenced on December 8, 1941. On 12 December, he single-handedly attacked a flight of 22 enemy planes and shot down two. He executed several low-altitude bombing and strafing runs on enemy ships; during one of these attacks, he became the first man to sink a warship, the Japanese destroyer Kisaragi, with small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter aircraft.

When all the U.S. aircraft had been destroyed by hostile fire, he organized remaining troops into a beach defense unit which repulsed repeated Japanese attacks. On December 23, 1941, Captain Elrod was mortally wounded while protecting his men who were carrying ammunition to a gun emplacement.

He was posthumously promoted to Major on November 8, 1946, and his widow was presented with the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the defense of Wake Island

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