PRIVATE FIRST CLASS
WILLIAM ROBERT CADDY, USMCR
He was only a milkman's helper in civilian life and never became more than a private first class in the Marines but William Robert Caddy, with just 17 months as a Marine, laid down his life in order that his platoon leader and platoon sergeant might live. His heroic bravery and sacrifice earned for him not only the undying admiration and respect of all Marines everywhere, but also the highest military award his country could give, the Medal of Honor. He was the 72nd Marine of World War II to receive this great honor.
William Robert Caddy was born on 8 August 1925 in Quincy, Massachusetts, a part of Metropolitan Boston, about eight miles south. He attended the schools of Quincy and succeeded in making the varsity baseball team in high school before he left school after his second year. His remaining time as a civilian, he spent as a helper on a milkman's truck. He turned most of his $25 a week pay over to his mother.
Inducted into the Marine Corps through the Selective Service system on 27 October 1943, Pvt Caddy was put on inactive duty until 10 November, the Marine Corps' 168th birthday anniversary, when he was called to active duty. At Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, the brand new Marine started out on the right foot by firing a score of 305 with the service rifle to qualify as a sharpshooter. He also received instructions in the use of the Reising sub-machine gun, Browning automatic rifle, M-1 carbine, bayonet and the hand grenade.
Following his ten-day recruit furlough, PFC Caddy reported into the Special Weapons Group, Base Artillery Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for instruction in the Twenty millimeter anti-aircraft gun. Upon the successful completion of the course, in which his rating was "good", the brown-haired, blue-eyed Bostonian was assigned to a rifle company in the new 5th Marine Division which was then forming. His unit was Company I, 3d Battalion, 28th Marines. After extensive training in North Carolina the new division shipped overland to San Diego where, on 22 July, PFC Caddy watched the California coast become a thin gray line on the horizon as his transport, the Middleton, headed for the Pacific battlefields.
Further training for the big fight ahead was undergone at Hilo, Hawaii, where the 5th Division encamped for five months. On 5 January 1945, the medium-built (five feet, seven and one half inches, 139 pounds) rifleman boarded an attack transport, the USS Darke, for an island whose name, then unknown to the world, was to become a synonym for "uncommon valor" - Iwo Jima.
Landing against the fanatic opposition which had characterized the Japanese since Tarawa, PFC Caddy went through the fighting on Iwo for 12 days. On 3 March he, his platoon leader, and his acting platoon sergeant, were advancing against shattering Japanese machine-gun and small arms fire in an isolated sector. Seeking temporary refuge from the murderous fire, the three Marines dropped into a shell hole where they were immediately pinned down by a well-concealed enemy sniper. After several unsuccessful attempts to advance further, the 19 year-old Marine and his lieutenant engaged in a furious hand grenade battle with the defending Japanese. When an enemy missile landed in their hole, PFC Caddy immediately covered it with his body and absorbed the deadly fragments.
The Medal of Honor was presented to his mother at ceremonies on the Montclair School lawn (which the Marine had formerly attended) on 8 September 1946 by Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo, Commandant of the First Naval District. Among those present were the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, the Mayor of Quincy, and the United States Congressman from that district.
Private First Class Caddy was initially buried in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima and was later reinterred in the U.S. National Cemetery at Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1948.