JOLIET, Ill. --
He was outnumbered.
Most of his Marines were dead.
But through courage and commitment, John Basilone and a section of surviving machine gunners killed over 3,000 Japanese enemy fighters in the battle of Guadacanal during WWII.
For his actions, Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for combat valor.
Upon his redeployment to the United States, Basilone toured the country selling war bonds. He was offered an officer’s comission and the opportunity to remain stateside.
Basilone was determined to fufill a promise he made to his Marines the day he left combat – that he would deploy to the Pacific and fight once again by their sides. He did. This time at Iwo Jima.
He fought courageously until he was killed by an enemy mortar.
But that wasn’t the end of Basilone’s legacy.
For the first time in history, a Reserve Marine was awarded the Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone Award for Courage and Commitment in a ceremony here May 19, 2013.
Staff Sgt. Alec Haralovich, a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient, received the award from Lt. Col. Dion A. Anglin, the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion commander.
“I’m truly honored to have received this award,” said Haralovich. “It’s even more humbling to end up being in the same roles as reconnaissance legends such as John Mosser [and] Brian Blonder…not to mention John Basilone himself.”
According to his fellow Marines, Haralovich’s name belongs aside those same Marine Corps legends.
Haralovich’s father could not be prouder.
“ The John Basilone award is a rare and honorable thing to have,” said George Haralovich, who is a U.S. Navy and Vietnam veteran. “I raised [him] and I know the kind of man that he’s become…. He personifies the Marine values of personal sacrifice and commitment.”
George said his son first displayed courage when he deployed with the California-based 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment to Iraq on active duty.
“He rescued a Marine in Fallujah; that was done completely anonymously,” George Haralovich said. “I could barely pull it out of him. But other Marines I met at the 2/7 barbecue filled me in on it. I’m not surprised that he would behave the way he did and take action the way he did. He chose the Marine career, so I think he’s ready to go anywhere, anytime. It’s the Marine Corps, you get your orders and you go, and that is where he’s at.”
According to Maj. Benjamin Everett, the inspector-instructor for Company E, 4th Recon. Bn., the award honors the legacy of Basilone and emphazises the contribution of the noncommissioned officer to the current fight. The final stamp of approval for the award comes from the highest-ranking enlisted Marine serving, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.
The recipient of the award is someone who embodies the spirit and character of Basilone.
His combat exploits contributed greatly to his selection as the recipient, said Everett, and Haralovich’s likeness to Basilone could not be more evident.
“[Basilone] comes back stateside to sell war bonds and through his own force of will finds his way back… in theater to serve with his Marines,” he said. “And you see a Marine Reservist, who has done active duty, come into the Reserves, volunteer for a deployment in Afghanistan and volunteer yet again. So there’s definitely some similarities there both in courage and commitment.”
After the ceremony, Haralovich took time to mingle with his fellow Marines and have a private conversation with his father before he left for a volunteer deployment, again.