George Edward Wahlen was born in Ogden, Utah, on 8 August 1924 and enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve as an apprentice seaman at the Navy Recruiting Station, Salt Lake City, Utah, on 11 June 1943. One week later, he went on active duty and completed his basic training at the Naval Training Station, San Diego, California. On 20 July 1943, he was advanced to seaman second class. After further training at the Naval Hospital Corps School, San Diego, he transferred to the Naval Hospital there and advanced to hospital apprentice first class on 1 November 1943. He was advanced to pharmacist’s mate third class on 1 December 1943. Later the same month, he was assigned to the Field Medical School Battalion, Fleet Marine Force, Camp Elliott, San Diego.

In February 1944, PhM3cWahlen joined the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. In July, the division left for duty in the Pacific and on 1 November 1944, he was advanced to pharmacist’s mate second class.

Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class Wahlen’s unit landed on Iwo Jima on 19 February 1945. Seven days later, PhM2c Wahlen was seriously wounded during a bitter firefight. Despite his painful wounds, he remained on the battlefield. He advanced well forward of the front line to render first aid to a wounded Marine and then carried him back to the battle aid station through the relentless hail of gunfire and shrapnel. He continued to assist his fallen comrades and, when an adjacent platoon suffered heavy casualties, PhM2c Wahlen braved the heavy fire to offer his assistance to 14 of their wounded before returning to his own platoon. On 2 March, PhM2c Wahlen was wounded again but refused evacuation. He was with his company the next day as they moved into yet another fierce assault. As always, he was unhesitatingly aiding wounded Marines on the battlefield when he was shot for the third time. Undaunted, he bound his own wound and then crawled fifty yards to aid yet another wounded Marine.

Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class Wahlen was evacuated and eventually sent back to the United States for further treatment of his wounds. On 5 October 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented PhM2c Wahlen the Medal of Honor at the White House for his selfless actions during the battle for Iwo Jima.

Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class Wahlen was honorably discharged on 19 December 1945 from the U.S. Naval Reserve in San Pedro, California. Three years later, he was commissioned an officer in the Medical Service Corps, U.S. Army. He served tours in both Korea and Vietnam before he retired as a major on 11 August 1969.

Major Whalen died on 5 June 2009 from lung cancer in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the age of 84.  He was laid to rest in Lindquist's Memorial Gardens of the Wasatch, Ogden, Utah.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, some of Maj Wahlen’s other decorations included the Purple Heart Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

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

Marine Corps University