Delaware County

Francis J. Pierce, pharmacist's mate 1/c

 

Medal of Honor

 

EXPOSES SELF TO SAVE MATES

Hawaii (AP) -- A navy corpsman deliberately "stood up" to the enemy to lure machine gun and rifle fire away from wounded men who were being evacuated from Iwo Jima.

The corpsman was Pharmacist's Mate First Class Francis J. Pierce, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Pierce, Earlville, Ia. His gallantry brought him the rare double award of both the Navy Cross and the Silver Star.

In addition to purposely exposing himself to Japanese fire -- he was wounded during one such incident -- Pierce repeatably dashed under fire to no man's land to treat and rescue the wounded.

On one occasion, Pierce, another corpsman and eight stretcher bearers were evacuating two wounded marines.

Suddenly, bullets smashed into the group, wounding Pierce's colleague and two stretcher bearers. Pierce leaped to the side, exposing himself to fire.

Five now were wounded, Pierce yelled to the six unwounded stretcher bearers to take three of the casualties to cover, then, while they made a break, he treated the remaining two.

He picked up one of his charges and started down the road. A Japanese rifleman fired from a ledge. A bullet buried itself in the marine Pierce was carrying. Marines watched open-mouthed as Pierce sidestepped along the roadway.

Bullets streaked by him. One nicked his shoe, another punctured his canteen. The corpsman carried the marine 200 yards to safety, fell exhausted, pushed himself to his feet and started back. Five minutes later, he appeared along the road again with the other wounded marine by his side. Bullets ploughed their pathway -- but they made the trip safely.

Source: The Des Moines Register, September 12, 1945 (photo included)

Medal of Honor Winner is Brother of Oelwin Man

Francis J. Pierce, native of Earlville, Ia., was one of three World War II veterans to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Truman Friday at Washington, D.C.

Pierce was a First Class Pharmacist's Mate attached to the Fourth Marine division during the invasion of Iwo Jima. It was there that the Earlville youth distinguished himself above and beyond the call of duty.

Pierce is the brother of Don Pierce, 17 3rd Ave. S.E. Don, 23, drives a bus for the Dewees bus lines and attend Upper Iowa university. Don also served in the navy as Second Class yeoman.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Pierce, Earlville, were present when their son received the medal.

Francis is now with the police department in Grand Rapids, Mich. An 11-man delegation from Grand Rapids accompanied Francis to Washington. Grand Rapids honored Pierce with a 1949 Ford and other presents.

Source: The Oelwein Daily Register, June 29, 1948