U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was the only enlisted man in World War II to receive the nation’s two highest awards for valor. Credited with almost single-handedly saving the Allied assault on Guadalcanal, he earned the Medal of Honor for his heroics on the island, and he perished while earning the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for his actions on Iwo Jima. Returning home from Guadalcanal to a hero’s welcome, he did a brief stint as a war bond spokesman before returning to the front, declaring “I’m staying with my boys.”
That inspirational pronouncement is the title of a stirring film about Basilone produced by Jerry Cutter, Edward H. Schaller and Jim Proser. The 45-minute documentary takes you from Basilone’s youth in Raritan, New Jersey, to his training at Quantico, Virginia, and his marriage to fellow Marine Lena Riggi, in addition to his war-time heroics. The story is told through historical photos, narration and interviews with his siblings and fellow Marines.
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