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Justice Marion Chambers
Colonel Justice M. Chambers, Medal of Honor recipient
Nickname Jumping Joe
Born (1908-02-02)February 2, 1908
Died July 29, 1982(1982-07-29) (aged 74)
Place of birth Huntington, West Virginia
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1928-1930 (USN), 1930-1946 (USMC)
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Commands held 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of Iwo Jima
Awards Medal of Honor (1945)
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Purple Heart
Other work Staff advisor for the Senate Armed Services Committee

Chambers with his family and President Harry Truman during his Medal of Honor presentation ceremony.

Colonel Justice Marion Chambers (February 2, 1908–July 29, 1982) was a United States Marine Corps officer who received the Medal of Honor for actions in World War II during the Iwo Jima campaign.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Chambers was born February 2, 1908 in Huntington, West Virginia. He went to school there and completed three years at Marshall College in Huntington. He attended George Washington University for two years and National University, both in Washington, D.C., where he obtained his law degree.[1]

Following the completion of two years enlistment in the Naval Reserve in 1930, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve as a private. He was commissioned in 1932 and continued his studies toward promotion. He was a major, attending summer camp, when Washington's 5th Battalion was called up in 1940. He was well known for the enthusiasm and energy with which he trained his men.[1]

Serving with the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Chambers received the Silver Star for evacuating the wounded and directing the night defense of a battalion aid station on Tulagi, where he himself was a patient already seriously wounded. Then "Major" Chambers' wounding would be later mentioned in "Pua Pua" written by Oscar Brand and released on his album "Tell it to the Marines."

He commanded the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines in the Roi-Namur campaign. On Saipan he suffered blast concussion, but returned to lead his battalion there and on Tinian. He had trained his command so thoroughly and his leadership was so conspicuous that he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V."[1]

Lieutenant Colonel Chambers commanded the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines in the Iwo Jima landing on February 19, 1945. His sector was beneath high ground from which heavy enemy fire raked the whole landing beach. "Capture of the high ground," the Medal of Honor recommendation stated, "…was essential to the success of the D-Day operations. It is an established fact that had it not been done, it would have constituted a most serious threat to the subsequent operations of the 5th Amphibious Corps."[1]

The 3rd Battalion lost more than half its officers and nearly one-half its enlisted strength on D-Day. But by "fearless disregard for his own life" and leading his depleted battalion "by example rather than command," LtCol Chambers won the key heights and anchored the right flank of the Marines' position.[1]

On the fourth day, directing the Marines' first rocket barrage and exposed to the enemy's main line of resistance, LtCol Chambers fell under enemy machine-gun fire. His wounds were so serious that he was medically retired and, because he had been specially commended for performance of duty in combat, he was promoted to colonel.[1]

Presentation of the Medal of Honor was made at the White House by President Harry S. Truman on November 1, 1950. (Later that same day, two Puerto Rican nationalists would attempt to assassinate Truman across the street at Blair House.) Col Chambers had been recommended for the award on April 7, 1945 following his evacuation, seriously wounded, from Iwo Jima. He had initially received the Navy Cross for his actions, but upon re-examination of the original recommendation with additional evidence, his award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor a few years later.[1]

Colonel Chambers retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve January 1, 1946. After his retirement, he served as staff advisor for the Senate Armed Services Committee.[1]

Colonel Chambers was appointed in 1962 by then President John F. Kennedy to the post of Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Planning, where he served with distinction until his retirement.[2]

He died on July 29, 1982 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.[3] His grave can be found in section 6, grave 5813-A-9, Map Grid X 21.[3]

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Medal of Honor Silver Star
Legion of Merit with Valor device Purple Heart with two award stars Navy Presidential Unit Citation with three service stars Organized Marine Corps Reserve Medal with two service stars
American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with silver service star World War II Victory Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit | edit source]

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

Justice Marion Chambers

For service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the 3d Assault Battalion Landing Team, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 to 22 February 1945. Under a furious barrage of enemy machinegun and small-arms fire from the commanding cliffs on the right, Col. Chambers (then Lt. Col.) landed immediately after the initial assault waves of his battalion on D-day to find the momentum of the assault threatened by heavy casualties from withering Japanese artillery, mortar rocket, machinegun, and rifle fire. Exposed to relentless hostile fire, he coolly reorganized his battle-weary men, inspiring them to heroic efforts by his own valor and leading them in an attack on the critical, impregnable high ground from which the enemy was pouring an increasing volume of fire directly onto troops ashore as well as amphibious craft in succeeding waves. Constantly in the front lines encouraging his men to push forward against the enemy's savage resistance, Col. Chambers led the 8-hour battle to carry the flanking ridge top and reduce the enemy's fields of aimed fire, thus protecting the vital foothold gained. In constant defiance of hostile fire while reconnoitering the entire regimental combat team zone of action, he maintained contact with adjacent units and forwarded vital information to the regimental commander. His zealous fighting spirit undiminished despite terrific casualties and the loss of most of his key officers, he again reorganized his troops for renewed attack against the enemy's main line of resistance and was directing the fire of the rocket platoon when he fell, critically wounded. Evacuated under heavy Japanese fire, Col. Chambers, by forceful leadership, courage, and fortitude in the face of staggering odds, was directly instrumental in insuring the success of subsequent operations of the 5th Amphibious Corps on Iwo Jima, thereby sustaining and enhancing the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.[4]

Named After Justice M. Chambers[edit | edit source]

Marine Corps League - Col. Justice M. Chambers Detachment - #555 - 8720 Twinbrook Dr. Mentor, Ohio 44060 "Colonel Justice M. Chambers Memorial Bridge" West Virginia: U. S. Route 60 crossing Four Pole Creek from Cabell County to Wayne County.[2]
The Colonel Justice Marion "Jumping Joe" Chambers Award is presented annually to the Reserve company grade officer within the 4th Marine Division or 4th Force Service Support Group who best demonstrates the outstanding leadership qualities exemplified by Colonel Chambers during World War II. (MARINE CORPS ORDER 1650R.35B)

The Reserve Center in Brook Park, OH, home to HQ Co, 3d BN, 25th MAR is named after Col. Chambers. It houses his medals which includes his Medal of Honor.

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

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References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
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