History

The MOH Marine Who Carried An Aircraft Machine Gun On Iwo Jima

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There is no doubt the United States marines are all heroes that should be celebrated but some of them take their patriotism and heroic acts to a higher level. Unfortunately, not all these heroes are celebrated the way they should be celebrated and some of their achievements only get noticed or publicized after their demise.

One of such heroes is Corporal Tony Stein who can best be described as the hero of Iwo Jima. He virtually single handled took out a lot of Japanese soldiers who had laid siege for American troops in Iwo Jima in 1945 during the Second World War. Since this article is meant for casual readers, it has been written in a simplified form devoid of too many military terms. Corporal Tony Stein recently received the Medal of Honor posthumously. The medal was given to his widow. However, not many are aware of why he was nominated for the award. 

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This is why this article has been written to bridge the knowledge gap. Stein was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1921 to Jewish immigrants from Austria. He was enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve shortly before his 21st birthday. He initially served in the Marine Corps paratrooper unit. Thereafter, he fought in the Pacific Theater on several occasions. During this period, he had started exhibiting some extraordinary courage, intelligence, and patriotism that are worthy of emulation. 

One of his impressive achievements was taking out five Japanese snipers in a single day. Tony Stein was definitely a handful for the Japanese troops. For his military prowess, he got promoted to corporal in 1944 shortly after the paramarines were disbanded and was assigned to the 5th Marine Division where he was the assistant squad leader.

One of the most effective weapons then was a variant of M1919 that was meant to be used on patrol aircraft and bombers. Although it is a lighter version of M1919, it is much more destructive than M1919. While M1919 could output 400 rounds per minute, this improved version could do up to 1350 rounds per minute and Corporal Tony Stein was astonishing with it.

Due to its level of destructiveness, the weapon was dubbed “The Stinger” and there were only six of them but Stein was in custody of one them. And you bet it was utilized to capacity by the young marine. In fact, it was his mastery of the use of this machine that won him the highly coveted Medal of Honor.

He made the best of the beast when his unit hit Iwo Jima on February 1945. He singlehandedly wiped out several Japanese troops with the weapon. When he ran out of ammunition, he would run back to the beach to resupply himself without his boots and helmet so that he could run faster. He made 8 of such trips and during some of them, he would help a wounded marine get back to safety. In some cases, when they had to lie low to avoid continuous enemy fire, he would courageously stand up and take some destructive shots at the enemies’ location to obliterate them and he often did it successfully with his stinger.

To underscore how close he was told death, in Iwo Jima, his stinger was shot out of his hands twice but he would pick it up and continue to do what he did best until the Japanese troops had to retreat in defeat. 

Unfortunately, Corporal Tony Stein was taken out by a sniper not long after. He was being treated when he heard that his unit had been pinned down so he left the medical facility to join them. May be it was because he wasn’t fully fit or it wasn’t just his day. The great Corporal Tony Stein was taken down by a Japanese sniper.

It is quite heartwarming that his achievements, courage and patriotism didn’t go unnoticed and unrewarded. His Medal of Honor was presented to his widow about a year ago. The least you can do to celebrate this war veteran is to share the story of his sacrifice and contribution to America. 

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