Everett Parker Pope – Major, United States Marine Corps

Everett Parker Pope, 90, died July 16, 2009 at Hill House.

Born in Milton, Massachusetts, on July 16, 1919, he was the son of Laurence E. Pope and Ruth (Parker) Pope.

He attended local schools and graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Bowdoin College.

After graduation, he joined the Marine Corps and married his high school sweetheart, Eleanor Hawkins. In June, 1942, he was deployed to the Pacific, and received the Bronze Star Medal for valor and the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.

After the war, he returned to Boston and joined Workingmens Cooperative Bank. In 1953, he was named president, making him the youngest bank president in New England. For many years, he was a leader in the savings and loan industry, pioneering the use of interest-bearing checking accounts. He was a long-standing supporter of the federal student loan program and served as the first chairman of the board of Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation in 1982.

In 1983, he retired to Brunswick with his wife Eleanor. From 1961 to 1988, he served on the governing boards of Bowdoin before being elected Trustee Emeritus. He remained steadily involved in the college, serving as president of the overseers and chairman of the board of trustees. After he stepped down as chairman, he helped establish a memorial on Bowdoin campus to graduates who died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He received two honorary degrees from Bowdoin, in 1946 and 1987.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 66 years, Eleanor, who died at Hill House on Jan. 22, 2009.

Surviving are two sons, Laurence and Ralph and their wives, Elizabeth and Jean; and two granddaughters, Eleanor and Elizabeth.

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


for service as set forth in the following 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, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau Group, on 19-20 September, 1944.

Subjected to point-blank cannon fire which caused heavy casualties and badly disorganized his company while assaulting a steep coral hill, Captain Pope rallied his men and gallantly led them to the summit in the face of machine-gun, mortar, and sniper fire. Forced by wide-spread hostile attack to deploy the remnants of his company thinly in order to hold the ground won, and with his machine-guns out of action and insufficient water and ammunition, he remained on the exposed hill with twelve men and one wounded officer, determined to hold through the night.

Attacked continuously with grenades, machine-guns, and rifles from three sides and twice subjected to suicidal charges during the night, 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 eight 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 Captain Pope and the United States Naval Service.



Major Everett Parker Pope (July 16, 1919–July 16, 2009) was a United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his 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.

Everett Parker Pope was born on July 16, 1919 in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Laurence Everett Pope and Ruth Parker Pope. He later moved to North Quincy, where he graduated from North Quincy High School in 1936. He attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and excelled in both academics and athletics. He was the captain of the state-champion tennis team and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Shortly after graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in French in June 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

In about 1942, Pope married his high school sweetheart, Eleanor Hawkins. The couple had two sons, Laurence E. and Ralph H. Pope.

After basic training, Pope attended Officer Candidate School and, on November 1, 1941, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve. He trained at Quantico, Virginia, and New River, North Carolina, prior to going overseas in June 1942 with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. On August 7, 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 Marine Regiment, 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 seven of the enemy during a 12-mile trek over jungle trails.

From September 12, 1944 to September 30, 1944, he took part in action in the Peleliu campaign during which he acted with “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty”, and for which he would later be awarded the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. Although wounded in action on September 20, he returned to duty the next day, and remained overseas until November 1944.

Pope was promoted to Major in January 1945 and assigned for one year as a student in the Japanese language course at Yale University. On July 16, 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 2nd Infantry Battalion, USMCR, Hingham, Massachusetts, until August 1950, when he was called to active duty with his battalion upon the outbreak of the Korean War. He served as Executive Officer of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until September 1951, when he was released to inactive duty and, shortly thereafter, resigned his commission in the Marine Corps.

On September 20, 1944, Captain 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. Pope and his men took Hill 154 at dusk after hours of bloody fighting which nearly annihilated 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, Pope was ordered to withdraw.

For these actions, Pope was formally presented with the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman during a ceremony in 1945. It was Truman's first Medal of Honor presentation, and he told Pope that he would rather have the medal than be president.

After his military service, Pope began a career as a banker. He was president of the Workmen's Co-operative Bank in Boston, Massachusetts, for more than 25 years beginning in 1953. At the start of his tenure, he was the youngest bank president in New England at age 34.[5] He worked in savings and loans and supported the federal student loan program, serving in 1982 as the first Chairman of the Board of Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation. After retiring in 1983, he returned to Brunswick, Maine, and lived near his alma mater, Bowdoin College.

He was active on Bowdoin's governing boards for 27 years, from 1961 to 1988, serving as president of the board of overseers and chair of the board of trustees. He established the Pope Scholarship Fund in the 1980s and, with other Bowdoin alumni, established the Haldane Cup, an award presented to a senior who demonstrates the leadership and character of Marine Corps Captain Andrew Haldane. Haldane, who was killed in the Battle of Peleliu, was the captain of the 1940 Bowdoin football team and a classmate of Pope. In 1987, the school awarded Pope an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Pope and his wife Eleanor lived on Amelia Island in Florida and on Great Pond in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, before failing health spurred them to return to the midcoast area of Maine to be nearer their sons. The couple entered the Hill House assisted-living facility in Bath in September 2008. His wife died there on January 22, 2009, and Pope himself died six months later, on the morning of his 90th birthday. Everett and Eleanor Pope will be buried together in Arlington National Cemetery on 15 September 2009.

23 July 2009:

 When President Harry Truman presented Marine Corps Captain Everett Pope with the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945, Truman told him he would rather have that medal than be President of the United States.

“I will never forget that,” Pope told veterans and residents of Osprey Village in a Veterans Day tribute in 2004.

And America, and Amelia Island, should never forget Pope – a true war hero whose valor earned him the nation's top military honor.

Pope was 90 when he died Thursday in Bath, Maine. Pope and his wife Eleanor, who died in January, lived in Maine and on Amelia Island during their retirement years.

Pope enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1941, six months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He said he was one of the 15 million “citizen soldiers” who served their country when they were called upon and went home to their families when the war was over.

He received the Medal of Honor for his bravery on the Island of Peleliu in the western Pacific, when he and his men were fighting against Japanese forces to capture an airstrip. The citation, which was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, states, “Captain Pope rallied his men and gallantly led them to the summit in 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 one wounded officer determined to hold through the night.”

Roosevelt died before he could present Pope with the medal, so the duty went to Truman, who presented his first Congressional Medal of Honor to Pope.

News-Leader columnist Dickie Anderson described Pope in a 2004 column as “a handsome white-haired gentleman with blue eyes that are startling in their clarity and brightness. Add a quick smile and gentle sense of humor.”

Anderson wrote, “As you walk in the Pope's front door, the first thing you see is a photograph of a handsome young man in uniform with President Truman standing behind him and fastening the ribbon with the Congressional Medal of Honor around his neck. Below the photograph is the medal.”


About 3,400 such medals have been given since it was created in 1861, and fewer than 50 living recipients.

Pope was born in Milton, Massachusetts, and attended Bowdoin College, graduating magna cum laude. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduation, and after basic training and completion of officer's candidate school he married Eleanor Hawkins, his high school sweetheart.

In June 1942, he deployed with the First Marine Division to the Pacific. He served with the Division at Guadalcanal and in the New Britain campaign, receiving a Bronze Star for valor.

After the war Pope re-turned to Boston and became a bank president. He retired from the banking business in 1983, and moved with Eleanor to Brunswick, Maine. They later lived on Amelia Island and on Great Pond in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. He and Eleanor had been married 66 years when she died January 22, 2009.

Major and Mrs. Pope are scheduled to be laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on 15 September 2009.

I participated (Saturday, 12 December 2009) in the Wreaths Across America effort, where approx 15,000 wreaths were donated to, and distributed across, specific sections of Arlington National Cemetery.

In walking over to Section 60, to visit with friends buried there, I came across Everett’s headstone and stopped to read it.  It looked different than the rest, specifically the MOH symbol in the center.  As I was leaving, I noticed something on the ground BEHIND the headstone, possibly trash, but it definitely that looked out of place.  As I reached to pick it up, I realized it was one of Everetts’ MOH coins, still in it’s clear zip lock plastic wrapper!  My first thought was that it had been knocked off the headstone in all the commotion of the day, but it was too far away (I thought) for that effect.  After placing it back on top the marker, where it still looked odd and vulnerable, so I decided after a few moments it would be best sheltered and preserved being tucked snugly into the front of the headstone.  It seemed a more appropriate place.

Like all those resting there, thanks for his gift to our freedom, Michael L. Hutchinson, Major, USAF (Retired)



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/16/1919
  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/16/2009


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 11/14/1919
  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/22/2009

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