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December 23, 1941

After a spirited defense in which the Marines become the first to sink Japanese surface combatants, Major Devereux and the defenders of Wake Island strike their colors and surrender.

Captain Elrod, a Wildcat pilot, earned a posthumous Medal of Honor for his actions during the defense of Wake Island.
 

*ELROD, HENRY TALMAGE

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 27 September 1905, Rebecca, Ga. Entered service at: Ashburn, Ga. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to Marine Fighting Squadron 211, during action against enemy Japanese land, surface and aerial units at Wake Island, 8 to 23 December 1941. Engaging vastly superior forces of enemy bombers and warships on 9 and 12 December, Capt. Elrod shot down 2 of a flight of 22 hostile planes and, executing repeated bombing and strafing runs at extremely low altitude and close range, succeeded in inflicting deadly damage upon a large Japanese vessel, thereby sinking the first major warship to be destroyed by small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft. When his plane was disabled by hostile fire and no other ships were operative, Capt. Elrod assumed command of 1 flank of the line set up in defiance of the enemy landing and, conducting a brilliant defense, enabled his men to hold their positions and repulse intense hostile fusillades to provide covering fire for unarmed ammunition carriers. Capturing an automatic weapon during 1 enemy rush in force, he gave his own firearm to 1 of his men and fought on vigorously against the Japanese. Responsible in a large measure for the strength of his sector's gallant resistance, on 23 December, Capt. Elrod led his men with bold aggressiveness until he fell, mortally wounded. His superb skill as a pilot, daring leadership and unswerving devotion to duty distinguished him among the defenders of Wake Island, and his valiant conduct reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


 

2 Comments

That USN 5"-51 sure was a nice piece, wasn't it?  Flat-shootin' and long-ranging it was. 3250 feet per second it achieved, I believe. 

It was just the thing for a bunch of riflemen who had to use Kentucky Windage because they hadn't been issued proper sights.  Surprised the Nips, it did.

It is my favorite USN piece. I think that there are exactly four of them left, aboard USS Texas.
 
P.s. The citation mentions the date of the action, but not the date of the citation. I wonder how soon the information got back home, after they were cut off, there. I do honor the good Captain for giving a most excellent account of himself, as written there.