James I Poynter
James was born on the 1st of December, 1916, in Bloomington, Illinois, and at the age of twenty-six, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He was deployed to the Pacific during World War 2 and was involved in several campaigns, from Guadalcanal, Southern Solomons, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa. His first enlistment ended after four years in February of 1946. Four years later, at the beginning of the Korean War, James reenlisted in the Marine Corps and was assigned to the 13th Infantry Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve in Los Angeles on the 19th of July, 1950. Within two months, he was deployed to Korea and participated in the Second Battle of Seoul after the Inchon Landing for which he earned a Bronze Star with V device. It was his actions during the advance to the Chosin Reservoir that would cost him his life and earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Squad Leader in a Rifle Platoon of Company A, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces during the defense of Hill 532, south of Sudong, Korea, on 4 November 1950. When a vastly outnumbering, well-concealed hostile force launched a sudden, vicious counterattack against his platoon's hasty defensive position, Sergeant Poynter displayed superb skill and courage in leading his squad and directing its fire against the onrushing enemy. With his ranks critically depleted by casualties and he himself critically wounded as the onslaught gained momentum and the hostile force surrounded his position, he seized his bayonet and engaged in bitter hand-to-hand combat as the break-through continued. Observing three machine guns closing in at a distance of twelve-five yards, he dashed from his position and, grasping hand grenades from fallen Marines as he ran, charged the emplacements in rapid succession, killing the crews of two and putting the other out of action before he fell, mortally wounded. By his self-sacrificing and valiant conduct, Sergeant Poynter inspired the remaining members of his squad to heroic endeavor in bearing down upon and repelling the disorganized enemy, thereby enabling the platoon to move out of the trap to a more favorable tactical position. His indomitable fighting spirit, fortitude and great personal valor maintained in the face of overwhelming odds sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
James was thirty-three when he died and a father of six. He became the eleventh Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in the Korean War and James Irsley Poynter was buried in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California with full military honors: section O, grave 729, where his second wife Kathern would join him in 2005.