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John R. McKinney
Photograph of President Truman joining hands with four servicemen he has just decorated with the Medal of Honor... - NARA - 199310.jpg
McKinney (left) with President Harry S. Truman (center) and other Medal of Honor recipients at the medal presentation ceremony.
Born (1921-02-26)February 26, 1921
Died April 4, 1997(1997-04-04) (aged 76)
Place of birth Woodcliff, Georgia
Place of death Sylvania, Georgia
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Sergeant
Unit Company A, 123d Infantry, 33d Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor

John R. McKinney was a United States soldier who received the Medal of Honor in World War II during the campaign to recapture the Philippines from Japanese forces in 1945. Against superior numbers, McKinney was single-handedly able to secure a crucial battlefield area before reinforcements arrived. He was presented the Medal in a White House ceremony by President Harry S. Truman on January 23, 1946.

McKinney enlisted in the United States Army from Screven County, Georgia in November 1942.[1] He served as a Sergeant in the United States Army.

Medal of Honor citationEdit

McKinney, John R.
Rank and organization: Sergeant (then Private), U.S. Army, Company A, 123d Infantry, 33d Infantry Division
Place and date: Tayabas Province, Luzon, Philippine Islands, May 11, 1945
Entered service at:Woodcliff, Georgia
He fought with extreme gallantry to defend the outpost which had been established near Dingalan Bay. Just before daybreak approximately 100 Japanese stealthily attacked the perimeter defense, concentrating on a light machinegun position ving completed a long tour of duty at this gun, Pvt. McKinney was resting a few paces away when an enemy soldier dealt him a glancing blow on the head with a saber. Although dazed by the stroke, he seized his rifle, bludgeoned his attacker, and then shot another assailant who was charging him. Meanwhile, one of his comrades at the machinegun had been wounded and his other companion withdrew carrying the injured man to safety. Alone, Pvt. McKinney was confronted by ten infantrymen who had captured the machinegun with the evident intent of reversing it to fire into the perimeter. Leaping into the emplacement, he shot seven of them at pointblank range and killed three more with his rifle butt. In the melee the machinegun was rendered inoperative, leaving him only his rifle with which to meet the advancing Japanese, who hurled grenades and directed knee mortar shells into the perimeter. He warily changed position, secured more ammunition, and reloading repeatedly, cut down waves of the fanatical enemy with devastating fire or clubbed them to death in hand-to-hand combat. When assistance arrived, he had thwarted the assault and was in complete control of the area. Thirty-eight dead Japanese around the machinegun and two more at the side of a mortar 45 yards distant was the amazing toll he had exacted single-handedly. By his indomitable spirit, extraordinary fighting ability, and unwavering courage in the face of tremendous odds, Pvt. McKinney saved his company from possible annihilation and set an example of unsurpassed intrepidity.


McKinney died on Apr. 4, 1997, and is interred at Doubleheads Baptist Church in Sylvania, Georgia.[2]


The State of Georgia renamed a highway The John R. McKinney Medal of Honor Highway in his honor.[3]

See alsoEdit


Further readingEdit

Forrest Bryant Johnson. 2007. Phantom Warrior: The Heroic True Story of Pvt. John McKinney's One-Man Stand Against the Japanese in World War II. Berkley, New York. ISBN 978-0-425-21566-1 plus Author Interview at the Pritzker Military Library on January 17, 2008

External linksEdit

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