There are so many tales of amazing heroics from the Second World War that it would probably take a lifetime to properly tell them all.
The numerous Medals of Honor that were issued document some of those stories in their citations.
Beauford T. Anderson was, at the time an enlisted soldier in the United States Army fighting in the Pacific theater. He had risen to the rank of technical sergeant.
During the Battle of Okinawa, Anderson’s unit came under heavy fire from a Japanese counterattack launched near Kakazu Ridge.
Fearing that his unit would be wiped out by the attack, Anderson ordered his men to take cover in a nearby tomb for safety. Anderson then proceeded to fight off dozens of Japanese single handedly.
Anderson opened fire on the advancing Japanese, emptying his magazine. With his gun empty, Anderson picked up a Japanese mortar shell which had failed to explode on impact and through it towards the advancing Japanese. The shell exploded and killed several Japanese soldiers.
Anderson then secured a box of mortar shells, extracted the safety pins, and began hurling them at the advancing Japanese while also reloading and continuing to fire his rifle.
His tenacious fighting ultimately forced a retreat of the Japanese troops. Despite being seriously injured by shrapnel, Anderson refused medical treatment until he could make his way to his commanding officer and accurately report the engagement. He was formally credited with killing 25 Japanese soldiers during the battle.
Here is the formal Medal of Honor Citation:
He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. When a powerfully conducted predawn Japanese counterattack struck his unit’s flank, he ordered his men to take cover in an old tomb, and then, armed only with a carbine, faced the onslaught alone. After emptying 1 magazine at pointblank range into the screaming attackers, he seized an enemy mortar dud and threw it back among the charging enemy Japanese soldiers, killing several as it burst. Securing a box of mortar shells, he extracted the safety pins, banged the bases upon a rock to arm them and proceeded alternately to hurl shells and fire his piece among the fanatical foe, finally forcing them to withdraw. Despite the protests of his comrades, and bleeding profusely from a severe shrapnel wound, he made his way to his company commander to report the action. T/Sgt. Anderson’s intrepid conduct in the face of overwhelming odds accounted for 25 enemy killed and several machineguns and knee mortars destroyed, thus single-handedly removing a serious threat to the company’s flank.
According to Wikipedia, Anderson lived out a successful life back in the states following the war:
After returning from the war, Anderson lived in Beloit, Wisconsin, and later spent time in Mackinac Island, Michigan. Ultimately, he relocated to Monterey County, California, where he served as mayor and city councilman of Seaside and as a Monterey County Supervisor. He lived on a cattle ranch near Hunter Liggett and spent the last years of his life in Salinas.