William David Halyburton, Jr. was born on 2 August 1924 in Canton, North Carolina. He enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve as an apprentice seaman on 4 August 1943 in Raleigh, North Carolina. One week later, he transferred to the Naval Training Station, Bainbridge, Maryland, where he advanced to seaman second class.

While he trained at the Hospital Corps School, also in Bainbridge, he was advanced to pharmacist’s mate third class. He studied at several training centers over the next two years and was advanced to pharmacist’s mate second class on 1 August 1944. After combat training at Camp Pendleton, California, PhM2c Halyburton embarked aboard the transport USS General M. M. Patrick on 14 December 1944 to join the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, which was leaving for duty on the island of Okinawa.

Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class Halyburton landed with the Marines during the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945. On 10 May, as his company attacked a significant objective, he moved in the open through deadly enemy machine gun, mortar, and small arms fire to reach the wounded. In order to protect a badly wounded patient, PhM2c Halyburton shielded the Marine with his own body despite the danger of incoming rounds and shell fragments. He continued to administer aid until he himself suffered a mortal wound. For heroically sacrificing his life so that Marines might live, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class Halyburton was laid to rest in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, PhM2c Halyburton’s awards included the Purple Heart Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. The guided missile frigate USS Halyburton (FFG-40) was launched on 30 October 1981. The Halyburton Naval Hospital at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, was also named in his honor.

Navy Medal of Honor recipients serving with Marine units at the time of award

Marine Corps University