Private First Class Richard F. Huntoon, USMCR Purple Heart reverse
Killed in Action, 8 March 1945
Richard Huntoon entered the Marine Corps at Parris Island, South Carolina in October 1943. Trained as a rifleman, he was initially assigned to Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire in January 1944. By the summer of that year was attached to the 61st Replacement Battalion in preparation for combat operations in the Pacific. Ultimately joining Company K, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Huntoon was promoted to the rank of private first class and landed with his unit on D +5 (24 Feb) between RED and YELLOW beaches as a part of the Reserve forces committed to Iwo Jima.
On D +16, 7 March 1945, General Erskine ordered the 9th Marines to make a major attack. The assault was spearheaded by Huntoon’s 3rd Battalion. Their objective was to capture Hill 362C, the last obstacle between the 3rd Marine Division and the sea. The Marines moved out with a smokescreen to cover their advance. For thirty minutes the attack made progress as the Marines bypassed enemy positions, but an observant machine gunner opened fire on their left flank. The Japanese began to mount increasing resistance. At 0600, 3/9’s officers radioed that they were at the top of Hill 362C, many enemy positions had been eliminated and casualties were light. Erskine was delighted. The euphoria was short-lived however, as 3/9 realized that they were in fact on Hill 331 not Hill 362C, which was another 250 yards away. The unit decided to press forward under intense fire. Despite heavy casualties, by 1400 Richard Huntoon’s K Company had reached their objective. Sadly, on 8 March, PFC Richard Huntoon’s luck would run out. Having survived seventeen days of combat on the island, he was struck by an enemy sniper and killed. Richard Huntoon was only 19 years old. In 1957, the town of Worcester, Massachusetts honored the young Marine, dedicating a town square as “Huntoon Square”.