Medal of Honor Recipients
Private First Class Harold Gonsalves
4th Battlion, 15th Marines
15 April 1945
On 15 April 1945, PFC Harold Gonsalves was in Okinawa as part of an eight-man forward observer team with the 4th Battalion, 15th Marines. The team was tasked with directing artillery fire in support of an attack by the infantry on Japanese positions on Motobu Peninsula.
When it was time to advance to the actual front lines, the officer in charge took PFC Gonsalves and one other man with him. PFC Gonsalves was acting Scout Sergeant of the team. He and the other Marine were to lay telephone lines for communication with the artillery battalion. As the trio advanced, they were under heavy enemy fire.
When they reached the front, a Japanese grenade fell within a foot of the three Marines. PFC Gonsalves immediately fell on the grenade, absorbing the explosion in his own body. His cool decision, prompt action and spirit of self-sacrifice protected the others from serious and perhaps fatal wounds. They were untouched and successfully completed their mission.
The Medal of Honor, posthumously awarded to PFC Gonsalves, was presented to his sister in the presence of his parents on 19 June 1946 in the San Francisco office of MajGen Henry L. Larsen, USMC, the commanding general of the Department of the Pacific.
Harold Gonsalves was born in Alameda, California, on 28 January 1926. After high school, he took a job as a stock clerk for Montgomery Ward. In May 1943, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, and in June he was called to active duty. After training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, he was sent, at his request, to the Raiders at Camp Pendleton. In November 1943, he was assigned to the 2d Pack Howitzer Battalion, then in Hawaii. In March 1944, he was promoted to Private First Class, and his battalion became part of the 22d Marines two months later.
With the 22d Marines, Pfc Gonsalves participated in the assault, capture, and occupation of Engebi and Parry Islands, in the Marshall Islands. His regiment was cited by MajGen Thomas E. Watson for their part in the Marshalls' campaign. From Eniwetok, PFC Gonsalves accompanied the 22d Marines to Kwajelein, Guadalcanal, back to Kwajelein, Eniwetok, then up to Guam in July where he took part in the liberation of that island.
After Guam, the regiment went back to Guadalcanal, where in November they were detached from the 22d Marines and joined the 15th Marines of the 6th Marine Division. It was with that outfit that PFC Gonsalves landed on Okinawa on 1 April 1945.
Following the war, PFC Gonsalves' remains were returned to the United States for reinterment. He was buried with full military honors in the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California in March 1949.
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