Medal of Honor Citation

On Independence Day, 1946, in Greeneville, Tennessee, a grateful nation paid tribute to a gallant Marine, posthumously awarding the Medal of Honor to the late Sgt Elbert Luther Kinser of Greeneville.

Sergeant Kinser won the nation's highest military decoration while acting as a leader of a rifle platoon, serving with Company I, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, in action on Okinawa.

Taken under sudden, close attack by hostile troops entrenched on the reverse slope while moving up a strategic ridge along which his platoon was holding newly won positions, Sgt Kinser engaged the enemy in a fierce hand grenade battle.

Quick to act when a Japanese grenade landed in the immediate vicinity, Sgt Kinser unhesitatingly threw himself on the deadly missile, absorbing the full charge of the shattering explosion in his own body and thereby protecting his men from serious injury and possible death. The action occurred on 4 May 1945.

Major General Clifton B. Cates, later to become Commandant of the Marine Corps, presented the medal to the parents of the sergeant during ceremonies attended by a host of dignitaries including the governor of the State of Tennessee.

The native Tennessean, born in Greeneville, 21 October 1922, enlisted with the Marine Corps in December 1942 and received his "boot" training at Parris Island, South Carolina. Prior to enlisting, he had worked on his father's farm.

He sailed from the United States in March 1943, and joined the 7th Replacement Battalion in Pago Pago, Tutuila, American Samoa. Later, that battalion joined the 1st Marine Division in Melbourne, Australia, and Sgt Kinser was assigned to Company I, 1st Marines.

Action with the 1st Marines followed at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, and later at Peleliu, Palau Islands. On Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, Sgt Kinser landed with his unit at Okinawa, where he was subsequently killed in action on 4 May.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Sgt Kinser was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.

Sergeant Kinser was buried in the 1st Marine Division Cemetery on Okinawa and his remains were returned to the United States in early 1949 for burial in Greeneville, Tennessee.

World War II Medal of Honor

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