Harry Linn Martin was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry in action at Iwo Jima on March 26, 1945. 1st Lt. and platoon leader Harry Martin of Co. C, Fifth Pioneer Battalion, Fifth Marine Division heroically faced a surprise attack at dawn of the enemy Japanese forces. He worked his way through hostile fire to help his fellow soldiers who were trapped by the incoming barrage. Although he sustained two severe injuries in that action, he continued to battle the enemy by single-handedly charging a Japanese machine gun position, killing the hostile forces. He continued on, leading his men against the enemy until he was mortally wounded by a grenade blast. One of the great heroes of World War II, his legacy lives on in the name of the U.S. Navy Ship, the USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin, named in 2006.
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First Lieutenant Harry Linn Martin (January 4, 1911 – March 26, 1945)
Harry Linn Martin was a member of the Ohio National Guard and graduated from Bucyrus High School and from Michigan State College in East Lansing, Michigan in 1936, where he majored in Business Administration. At State, he was on the football and wrestling teams and did some boxing and skiing. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Fraternity and served two years in the Cavalry unit of the ROTC. Following graduation, he worked in Honolulu, Hawaii, as an office manager for the Hawaiian Construction Tunnel Company.
On August 25, 1943, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. Following schooling at Quantico, Virginia, 2dLt Martin completed the Engineers School at New River, North Carolina, and was designated an Engineer Officer on March 13, 1944. Assigned to 2nd Battalion, 16th Marines, engineer regiment of the 5th Marine Division, he joined Company C when the designation of the battalion was changed to 5th Pioneer Battalion.
Second Lieutenant Martin went overseas with his unit in the summer of 1944 and went into training at Hawaii. On February 19, 1945, he landed on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands and before the day ended he had already sustained a slight wound. He was promoted to first lieutenant on March 1, 1945, twenty-five days before his death.
A few minutes before dawn on the morning of March 26, the day the Iwo campaign officially closed, the Japanese launched a concentrated attack and penetrated the Marine lines in the area where 1st Lt Martin’s platoon was bivouacked. He immediately organized a firing line among the men in the foxholes closest to his own, and temporarily stopped the headlong rush of the enemy. Several of his men were lying wounded in positions overrun by the enemy and the lieutenant was determined to rescue them. In the action which followed, he was severely wounded twice but continued to resist the enemy until he fell mortally wounded by a grenade.
He was the second MSU student to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Whitney Miller, MSU Moments, June 25, 2012.