Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, March 18, 2024

Remembering a Veteran: Corporal John H. Pruitt, 6th Marines, 2nd Division (KIA), Medal of Honor

Corporal Pruitt

John Henry Pruitt was born on 4 October 1896 in Fallsville, Arkansas. He entered military service from Phoenix, Arizona, in May 1917. At a very early age, Pruitt, along with his family, moved to Jerome, Arizona, where his older brother was a blacksmith in the local mines. Little is known of Pruitt’s early years. It is believed that he attended school in Jerome before the family moved to Alhambra, a Phoenix suburb. He enlisted as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps on 3 May 1917 and joined the 6th Regiment of Marines in July 1917. He went overseas with the 78th Company, 6th Regiment.

He participated in engagements with the enemy at Chateau-Thierry, Bouresches, and Belleau Wood before he was gassed on 14 June 1918 and sent to a base hospital. Upon his recovery, he returned to the front and fought in the Marbache Sector, St. Mihiel, Thiaucourt, and later at Blanc Mont in the Champagne Sector. He was officially cited for bravery in action, near Thiaucourt, France, 15 September 1918, for aiding in the capture of an enemy machine gun.

Fellow Members of Pruitt's Unit, the 6th Marines

At Blanc Mont Ridge on 3 October 1918, Pruitt singlehandedly attacked two machine guns, destroying them and killing two of the enemy. He then captured 40 prisoners in a dugout nearby. This gallant Marine was killed the next day by shell fire while he was sniping at the enemy. It was his 22nd birthday. He was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor. Pruitt was also awarded the Purple Heart twice and both the Silver Star and Bronze Star four times.

John Henry Pruitt's remains were returned to the United States and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The United States Navy named a destroyer USS Pruitt (DD-347) in his honor in 1920. Pruitt Hall on Marine Corps Base Quantico is named for him.

Sources: Marine Corps University; Encyclopedia of Arkansas


  1. I know that this is picky but the Bronze Star was not awarded until 1941.

  2. no purple hearts either at that time.

  3. The US Military updated WW1 wound and gallantry awards in the 1930s and 40s. After the Government created the new awards. Men had been mentioned in dispatches and honor rolls and all sorts of things- those were all reviewed and the new appropriate medals put in place. They had the records annotated posthumously. My Grandfather was wounded in the Argonne and got a Purple Heart in the late 1930s to match his wound stripe.

  4. What an incredible hero. He was in the thick of the action until his death. We are fortunate that men like this went to stop the German Invasion!