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Henry Talmage Elrod

Henry Talmage Elrod

Born at Rebecca, Georgia, on September 27, 1905, he earned the Medal of Honor during World War II while serving as Captain, USMC, at Wake Island, on December 8-23, 1941 during the initial Japanese invasion of that Island. He was killed in that action and was subsequently buried in Section 12 of Arlington National Cemetery. Major Henry T. Elrod was born on September 27, 1905, in Turner County, Georgia. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in December, 1927, and was appointed a Marine second lieutenant in February,1931. He attended the University of Georgia and Yale University prior to his entry into the Marine Corps. Following over a year at the Marine Corps Basic School in Philadelphia and at the Marine Barracks there as a student aviator, Lieutenant Elrod was ordered to the Naval Station at Pensacola. Here he served as a company officer at the Naval Station, and as student aviator. In February, 1935, he won his wings and, as a Marine Aviator, was transferred to Quantico, where he served with a Marine aircraft unit until January, 1938. In addition to his other duties, he was squadron school, personnel, and welfare officer. In July, 1938, Elrod went to San Diego for duty at the Naval Air Station and served as squadron material, parachute, and personnel officer, until January, 1941, when he was detached to the Hawaiian area. He arrived at Wake a short time before the hostilities commenced and was one of the twelve pilots who flew the Marine planes onto the island. He was killed in action defending Wake Island against the invading Japanese on December 23, 1941. During the defense of Wake, Major Elrod repeatedly displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty. On the 12th of December he single-handedly attacked a flight of 22 enemy planes and shot down two. On several flights he executed low altitude bombing and strafing runs on enemy ships, and became the first man to sink a major warship with small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft. When his plane was destroyed by hostile fire he organized a unit of ground troops into a beach defense and repulsed repeated Japanese attacks until he fell mortally wounded. On November 8, 1946, his widow was presented with the Medal of Honor, posthumously awarded to her husband for his heroic actions during the last bitter days of the defense of Wake. Major Elrod was initially buried on Wake Island, but was reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer, Virginia, in October 1947.

8 Responses to “Henry Talmage Elrod”

  • My is wife Nancy Cox, her mother is Elsie Elrod Campbell and her father was Frank Elrod and mother was Elsie Cunningham Elrod. would like more information on your family tree. Thank You Ed Cox

  • Would like more on Elrod family history

  • Kathy Light:

    Hello. I just found out about Henry Talmage Elrod. He was my father, Frank Rainey Light’s, 1st cousin. My father (now deceased) lost his twin brother, Joseph, in the Battle of Tarawa. He did not talk much about the war, although he served in the South Pacific Theater too. Hank’s mother, Bess, was my grandmother,Elizabeth Rainey Light’s, sister. Bess had three children…Hank, Mildred (Rinehart) and Kate. Her maiden name was Rainey. That makes Hank my second cousin, even though I was born in 1959. That is all I know for now, but I am just beginning my research. I wish you well.

  • Ronald Ringler:

    This man was a great American hero and an inspiration to his fellow American troops. Thank you, sir, for your patriotism and sacrifice.

  • SSG C.L. "Kit" Carson:

    Who was the major’s wife?

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