b. 01/12/1916 Bloomington, Illinois. d. 04/11/1950 near Sudong, Korea.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 04/11/1950 near Sudong, Korea.
James Irsley Poynter was born on December 1, 1916 in Bloomington, Illinois. He enlisted in the regular Marine Corps in February 1942. He fought in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, participating in the Guadalcanal, Southern Solomons, Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa campaigns. Poynter was discharged in February 1946.
At the beginning of the Korean War, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps, joining the 13th Infantry Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve in Los Angeles on July 19, 1950. He arrived in Korea in time to aid in the recapture of Seoul after the Inchon landing. Sgt Poynter was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for “outstanding leadership, ability and courageous aggressiveness against the enemy” as a squad leader in from September 24, to October 4, 1950.
On November 4, 1950, Sgt Poynter was a squad leader of Company A, 7th Marines. While defending Hill 532, south of Sudong, Korea, he was wounded in hand-to-hand combat. In spite of his wounds, when he saw three machine guns setting up only 25 yards (23 m) away, he charged the enemy position with hand grenades from fallen comrades, and was able to take out all three machine gun crews before being killed. His heroic actions enabled his outnumbered platoon to beat off the enemy assault and move to more defensible positions.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Squad Leader in a Rifle Platoon of Company A, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces during the defense of Hill 532, south of Sudong, Korea, on 4 November 1950. When a vastly outnumbering, well-concealed hostile force launched a sudden, vicious counterattack against his platoon's hasty defensive position, Sergeant Poynter displayed superb skill and courage in leading his squad and directing its fire against the onrushing enemy. With his ranks critically depleted by casualties and he himself critically wounded as the onslaught gained momentum and the hostile force surrounded his position, he seized his bayonet and engaged in bitter hand-to-hand combat as the break-through continued. Observing three machine guns closing in at a distance of twelve-five yards, he dashed from his position and, grasping hand grenades from fallen Marines as he ran, charged the emplacements in rapid succession, killing the crews of two and putting the other out of action before he fell, mortally wounded. By his self-sacrificing and valiant conduct, Sergeant Poynter inspired the remaining members of his squad to heroic endeavor in bearing down upon and repelling the disorganized enemy, thereby enabling the platoon to move out of the trap to a more favorable tactical position. His indomitable fighting spirit, fortitude and great personal valor maintained in the face of overwhelming odds sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
BURIAL LOCATION: FORT ROSECRANS NATIONAL CEMETERY, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA.
Section O Grave 729
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