The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
POPE, EVERETT PARKER
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Peleliu Island, Palau group, 19-20 September 1944. Entered service at: Massachusetts. Born: 16 July 1919, Milton, Mass.
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, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau group, on 19-20 September 1944. Subjected to pointblank cannon fire which caused heavy casualties and badly disorganized his company while assaulting a steep coral hill, Capt. Pope rallied his men and gallantly led them to the summit in the 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 1 wounded officer determined to hold through the night. Attacked continuously with grenades, machineguns, and rifles from 3 sides, 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 8 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 Capt. Pope and the U.S. Naval Service.
Maj. 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 in January 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.
The Battle of Peleliu, like other bloody World War II island campaigns before it, was a fight to capture an airstrip on a small coral island in the Western Pacific. And, as with previous island battles, the Americans prevailed, but at a higher cost than anticipated, against the determined resistance of the Japanese forces.
By the summer of 1944, victories in the Southwest and Central Pacific had brought the war even closer to Japan, with American bombers able to strike at the Japanese homeland. But there was disagreement by the U.S. Joint Chiefs over two proposed strategies to crush the Japanese Empire. One strategy proposed by General Douglas MacArthur called for the recapture of the Philippines, followed by the capture of Okinawa for an attack at the Japanese mainland. From there, the eventual invasion of Japan would come. Admiral Chester Nimitz, on the other hand, favored a more direct strategy of bypassing the Philippines, but seizing Okinawa and Formosa as staging areas an attack on the Chinese mainland as well as the future invasion of Japan's southernmost islands.
As for Peleliu, both commanders' strategies included the invasion of this island, but for different reasons, and the 1st Marine Division had already been chosen to make the assault. To settle this dispute, President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to Pearl Harbor to personally meet both commanders and hear their respective arguments. After a review of both positions, MacArthur's strategy was chosen. However, before MacArthur could retake the Philippines, the Palau Islands, Peleliu and Anguar specifically, were thought to be necessary for neutralization and building an airfield to protect his right flank. This turned out not to be necessary at all. What followed was a ferocious battle lasting more than two months and costing over 12,000 lives on both sides. Engaging on Peleliu was the 1st Marine Division, and also the U.S. Army 81st Infantry Division that had already overrun the smaller island of Anguar.
On 10 July 1930, the designation of the 1st Marine Regiment was changed to its present, permanent title of 1st Marines by a Corps-wide redesignation of units. On 1 November 1931, the 1st Marines, as a regiment, was disbanded. A large part of its personnel joined the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Expeditionary Force organized at Quantico the same date. On 31 October 1947, the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, was disbanded, and the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, was redesignated 1st Marines, Fleet Marine Force, Western Pacific. During this period, the 1st Marines was at BLT strength in keeping with Marine Corps budgetary restrictions The 1st Marines again came into existence on 4 August 1950 by redesignation of the 2d Marines, 2d Marine Division. On 2 September, the regiment arrived at Kobe, Japan. In a few short weeks, the 1st Marines had been reborn, brought up to combat strength, and carried half way around the world.
On 17 March 1959, the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, initiated the transplacement program, which called for organizing and training a unit, such as an infantry battalion, at Camp Pendleton, and then moving the trained unit to Okinawa, where it becomes a unit of the 3d Marine Division. In turn, a similar sized unit from that division returned to Pendleton, where, over a period of months, it was re-organized and trained to await its turn for a tour overseas.
On 15 October 1962, aerial photographs were analyzed and the presence of strategic missiles and sites in Cuba was indicated. After a quarantine of Cuba was ordered by the President, the units which were to participate in the blockade were alerted. Guantanamo had been reinforced and the order to activate the 5th MEB, had been issued before most of the American people were aware that the crisis had developed. With the activation order, the 1st and 3d Battalions of the 1st Marines began organizing for deployment with the 5th MEB. The dismantling of the missile sites by the Russians brought about the order to return to Camp Pendleton. On 01 December 1962, 1/1 and 3/1, on board the USS BEXAR, BAYFIELD, and the OKANAGAN, arrived at Guantanamo, and departed the next day with the 2d Battalion on board.
In the 1980's, the Battalion rotated between 3rd Marine Division at Okinawa and 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. During the liberation of Kuwait, the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines fought amid dense smoke. Unable to employ close air support and artillery, their tactics relied on TOW gunners using thermal sights. In spite of poor visibility, the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, destroyed about 43 enemy vehicles and captured more than 500 prisoners. The drive by the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, set off a chain of events. When the 1st Battalion proceeded north it encountered Iraqi units moving across the division front. The battalion halted the southern flank unit of a brigade-size enemy force, fixed it in place, and ultimately destroyed it.
Since the Gulf War, the Battalion has made various deployments to: Thailand; Singapore; South Korea; United Arab Emirates; Persian Gulf; and Australia. From October through November 1999, the Battalion participated in Operation Stabilise in East Timor.
1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, is stationed at Camp Pendleton. After participating in Combined Armed Exercise (CAX) 1-01 from 01 October 2000 - 21 October 2000, it attached to 15th MEU in February 2001 for an August 2001 deployment.