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First Name: John

Last Name: Gravitt

Birthplace: Prague, OK, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Dallas, TX
Middle Name: C.

Date of Birth: 22 December 1917

Date of Death: 23 September 1944

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served:
John C. Gravitt

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John C. Gravitt

1st Lieutenant, U. S. Marine Corps

Navy Cross

Navy Cross Citation
Awarded posthumously for actions during World War II.
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant John C. Gravitt (MCSN: 0-19349), United States Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Platoon Leader attached to Company I, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu, Palau Islands, 28 September 1944.
Skillfully leading his platoon in defense of a sector of the front lines vital to the success of the mission assigned his company, First Lieutenant Gravitt constantly exposed himself to heavy enemy machine-gun and rifle fire in order to direct the fire of his unit against the fortified hostile emplacements. Observing a group of Japanese moving to a new location and aware that their fire from this point would imperil an adjacent unit and render his own position on a barren ridge untenable, he unhesitatingly seized and automatic rifle from one of his men and, courageously making his way forward to an open area, delivered intense, accurate fire on the enemy group until he was mortally wounded. By his inspiring leadership and dauntless fighting spirit in the face of grave danger, First Lieutenant Gravitt enabled his platoon to locate and destroy the Japanese troops, and his self-sacrificing devotion to duty was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific Forces: Serial 0123 (February 1, 1945)
Action Date: 28-Sep-44
Service: Marine Corps Reserve
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company I
Battalion: 3d Battalion
Regiment: 7th Marines
Division: 1st Marine Division

John C. Gravitt (As told by his sister, Joanna): "My brother, John C. Gravitt, was born in Oklahoma December 22, 1917, and died September 23, 1944 on the island of Peleliu. He had joined the Marines in late 1938 because, like so many young men of the time, couldn't find a job and wanted to make something of himself. So, he picked what he believed to be the best organization, the United States Marines.

During the first years of his service, John served on the battleship, U.S.S. Oklahoma, and pitched on their baseball team which very proudly won the Fleet championship. He was then known as "Tiny" Gravitt, which, of course, meant he was really pretty big. On the night of December 6, 1941, he was given leave to go into Honolulu for the weekend, and that is where he was when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor.

We didn't hear from John for many months after that and didn't know if he were alive or dead. However, eventually we got a letter telling us that they were somewhere in the Pacific. Of course, later we were to find out that his unit was fighting across the Pacific in the British Solomon Islands which included Guadalcanal. He contracted a severe case of malaria and was sent home to Lettermen's General Hospital. Then, he was transferred to Quantico to train new recruits because of his previous experience. When he had been there about 10 months, he requested to be sent back to the Pacific as he wanted to help find and release our brother, Floyd, a Japanese Prisoner of War in Osaka. The request was granted, but his wish was not to come true.

There were many battles ahead for him and the last one was on Peleliu. On Peleliu John was killed in action "against enemy Japanese forces". On the day of his death, according to the citation for the Navy Cross, he was leading his platoon in defense of a sector of the front lines when he observed a group of Japanese moving to a new location. He was aware that their fire from this point would imperil an adjacent unit and render his unit's position undefensible. He seized an automatic rifle from one of his men and "courageously making his way to an open area, delivered intense, accurate fire on the enemy group until he was mortally wounded."

My brother, Lt. John C. Gravitt, is buried in Punchbowl Cemetery, Hawaii, alongside another brother, Sgt. Wilbert Gravitt, II AAF Bomb Group, who died in a bomber crash in 1942. My third brother, Floyd Gravitt, was captured on Corregidor and was a Japanese Prisoner of War until the end, but was fortunate to come home and live many happy years."

Origin of Nickname/Handle:

Texas WWII Exceptional Gallantry

Honoree ID: 315791   Created by: drjones46




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