||Private, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve)
||August 9, 1919
||Navy Cross, Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal
||2nd Raider Battalion, carried aboard
||October 16, 1942
||Captured on Butaritari Island, Makin Atoll,
taken to Kwajalein and executed
||Navy Cross Citation, written before the actual
circumstances of his death were known:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to John I. Kerns (348233), Private, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous devotion to duty while serving as a member of a volunteer boat crew in Company B, SECOND Marine Raider Battalion, during the Marine Raider Expedition against the Japanese-held island of Makin in the Gilbert Islands on 17 and 18 August 1942. Fully aware of the hazards of an imminent enemy air attack, and with complete disregard for his own life, Private Kerns, with four others, volunteered to take a boat to a point just outside a reef and shoot a line ashore to assist in evacuating those men remaining on the beach. Caught on the sea, he was defeated in his valiant efforts by the violent strafing of his boat by withering enemy machine-gun fire. His great personal valor and loyal spirit of self-sacrifice were in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country.
Photo courtesy of Gunner
Ed Sere, USMC, ret.
Pre-WWII Post-WWII Sources
Kerns, John Irvin