Mar 3

A Profile in Courage—Petty Officer George E. Whalen

Thursday, March 3, 2011 12:00 PM


On the island of Iwo Jima on 26 February 1945, Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George E. Whalen, USNR, attached to a rifle company in the Second Battalion, 26th Marines, retrieves a wounded Marine from in front of his company’s lines and carries him to safety. He is wounded in the left eye before he accomplishes this heroic act. Two days later Wahlen braves heavy mortar and rifle fire and voluntarily rushes to the aid of an adjacent platoon that has suffered heavy casualties, treating 14 men before returning to his own unit.

On 3 March, having been wounded in the back the previous day, Wahlen is wounded a third time as he treats his fallen shipmates. Unable to walk, he crawls 50 yards to render aid to a wounded Marine. For this and previous acts he is awarded the Medal of Honor, citing his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life.” Whalen was one of four Pharmacist’s Mates who was awarded the Navy’s highest honor for their acts of valor on Iwo Jima.