b. 25/12/1920 San Antonio, Texas. d. 20/11/1943 Tarawa.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 20/11/1943 Tarawa, Gilbert Islands.
William Bordelon was born on December 25, 1920 in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from Central Catholic Marianist High School in San Antonio in 1938, where he was the JROTC battalion major in 1937-1938. He was one of three of the high school's graduates who died on Tarawa.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps on December 10, 1941, and completed his recruit training at to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. He joined the 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, in San Diego. He was rapidly promoted — to private first class on February 5, 1942; to corporal on March 14, 1942; and to sergeant on July 10, 1942.
He was killed in action, at age 22, while serving as a member of an assault engineer platoon of the First Battalion, Eighteenth Marines, tactically attached to the 2nd Marine Division against the Japanese in the Battle of Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands on November 20, 1943. He single-handedly destroyed four enemy pillboxes before he was fatally wounded.
For valorous and gallant conduct above and beyond the call of duty as a member of an Assault Engineer Platoon of the First Battalion, Eighteenth Marines, tactically attached to the Second Marines, Second Marine Division, in action against the Japanese-held Atoll of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands on November 20, 1943. Landing in the assault waves under withering enemy fire which killed all but four of the men in his tractor, Staff Sergeant Bordelon hurriedly made demolition charges and personally put two pill boxes out of action. Hit by enemy machine-gun fire just as a charge exploded in his hand while assaulting a third position, he courageously remained in action and, although out of demolition, provided himself with a rifle and furnished fire coverage for a group of men scaling the seawall. Disregarding his own serious condition, he unhesitatingly went to the aid of one of his demolition men, wounded and calling for help in the water, rescuing this man and another who had been hit by enemy fire while attempting to make the rescue. Still refusing first aid for himself, he again made up demolition charges and single-handedly assaulted a fourth Japanese machine-gun position but was instantly killed when caught in a final burst of fire from the enemy. Staff Sergeant Bordelon's great personal valor during a critical phase of securing the limited beachhead was a contributing factor in the ultimate occupation of the island and his heroic determination reflects the highest credit upon the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
BURIAL LOCATION: FORT SAM HOUSTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS.
Section AI, Grave 558