John Harold Leims – Captain, United States Marine Corps

Born at Chicago, Illinois, June 8, 1921, he earned the Medal of Honor during World War II while serving as Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps Reserve, Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, March 7, 1945.

He died on June 28, 1985 and was buried in Section 2, Grave 1133) of Arlington National Cemetery.

Captain John H. Leims earned the Medal of Honor as a second lieutenant on Iwo Jima, March 7, 1945.

John Harold Leims was born in Chicago, Illinois, June 8, 1921, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose P. Leims. He attended St. Hilary Parochial School, Quigley Preparatory Seminary, and was graduated from St. George High School at Evanston, Illinois, in 1939. At St. George's, he played varsity football and track, was sports editor of the school paper, and was an assistant scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America.

After high school, he attended Northwestern University for two and a half years, and worked part-time at the Commonwealth Edison Company. He left college in 1941 following his marriage, and worked subsequently for the Standard Oil Company; the Paschen Construction Company, then engaged in enlarging the Naval Station at Great Lakes, Illinois and the Austin Construction Company.

Enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve on November 27, 1942, he completed recruit training at San Diego and was assigned to the 3d Service Battalion, 3d Marine Division. He left for overseas duty with that outfit, on February 23, 1943. After four months in New Zealand and two months at Guadalcanal, he was selected for officer training and returned to the United States in September 1943. He was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant, March 1, 1944, at Quantico, Virginia.

On June 29 of that year, Lieutenant Leims went overseas again and rejoined the 3d Marine Division. This time, he was a company officer in a rifle company of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. In October and November, he was actively engaged in patrolling against Japanese holdouts on Guam.

Landing on Iwo Jima on February 24, 1945, he was slightly wounded by a shell fragment on February 27, but returned to duty on the same day. On March 3, due to heavy casualties, he became company commander, a position usually filled by a captain. On March 7, he led his company in a surprise attack against a strongly fortified enemy hill position, succeeded in capturing the objective, and in spite of withering fire returned forward to rescue two of his wounded men.

Promoted to first lieutenant, June 1, 1945, he returned to the United States that November and was detached from active duty on January 25, 1946. On June 14 of that year, he was temporarily recalled to active duty to receive the Medal of Honor, presented to him by President Truman in a White House ceremony.

A member of the 9th Reserve District, he was subsequently promoted to captain in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1956, and retired July 1, 1962. He died in June 1985 at the age of 64.


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. marine Corps Reserve, Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division. Place and date: Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 7 march 1945. Entered service at: Chicago, Illinois. Born: 8 June 1921, Chicago, Illinois.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on
Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 7 march 1945. Launching a surprise attack against the rock-imbedded fortification of a dominating Japanese hill position, 2d Lt. Leims spurred his company forward with indomitable determination and, skillfully directing his assault platoons against the cave-emplaced enemy troops and heavily fortified pillboxes, succeeded in capturing the objective in later afternoon. When it became apparent that his assault platoons were cut off in this newly won position, approximately 400 yards forward of adjacent units and lacked all communication with the command post, he personally advanced and laid telephone lines across the isolating expanse of open fire-swept terrain. Ordered to withdraw his command after he had joined his forward platoons, he immediately complied, adroitly effecting the withdrawal of his troops without incident. Upon arriving at the rear, he was informed that several casualties had been left at the abandoned ridge position beyond the frontlines. Although suffering acutely from the strain and exhausting of battle, he instantly went forward despite darkness and
the slashing fury of hostile machinegun fire, located and carried to safety 1 seriously wounded marine and then, running the gauntlet of enemy fire for the third time that night, again made his tortuous way into the bullet-riddled deathtrap and rescued another of his wounded men. A dauntless leader, concerned at all time for the welfare of his men, 2d Lt. Leims soundly maintained the coordinated strength of his battle-wearied company under extremely difficult conditions and, by his bold tactics, sustained aggressiveness, and heroic disregard for all personal danger, contributed essentially to the success of his division's operations against this vital Japanese base. His valiant conduct in the face of fanatic opposition sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

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