The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
*MAY, MARTIN O.
Rank and Organization:: Private First Class, U.S.
Army, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Place and Date legusuku-Yama, Ie
Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 1921 April 1945. Entered Service at: Phillipsburg, N.J. Birth:
Phillipsburg, N.J. G.O. No.: 9, 25 January 1946.
He gallantly maintained a 3-day stand in the face of terrible odds when American troops
fought for possession of the rugged slopes of legusuku-Yama on Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands.
After placing his heavy machinegun in an advantageous yet vulnerable position on a ridge
to support riflemen, he became the target of fierce mortar and small arms fire from
counterattacking Japanese. He repulsed this assault by sweeping the enemy with accurate
bursts while explosions and ricocheting bullets threw blinding dust and dirt about him. He
broke up a second counterattack by hurling grenades into the midst of the enemy forces,
and then refused to withdraw, volunteering to maintain his post and cover the movement of
American riflemen as they reorganized to meet any further hostile action. The major effort
of the enemy did not develop until the morning of 21 April. It found Pfc. May still
supporting the rifle company in the face of devastating rifle, machinegun, and mortar
fire. While many of the friendly troops about him became casualties, he continued to fire
his machinegun until he was severely wounded and his gun rendered useless by the burst of
a mortar shell. Refusing to withdraw from the violent action, he blasted fanatical
Japanese troops with hand grenades until wounded again, this time mortally. By his
intrepidity and the extreme tenacity with which he held firm until death against
overwhelming forces, Pfc. May killed at least 16 Japanese, was largely responsible for
maintaining the American lines, and inspired his comrades to efforts which later resulted
in complete victory and seizure of the mountain stronghold.