Sergeant James I. Poynter, 33, of Downey, California, earned the Medal of Honor for giving his life in a lone charge which wiped out three enemy machine gun crews.
He was a Marine veteran of World War II and father of four children. He reenlisted in the Marine Corps at the outbreak of the Korean conflict. He joined the 13th Infantry Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve, in Los Angeles on 19 July 1950, and was the 11th Marine to earn the Nation’s highest honor for heroism in Korea.
The citation said Sgt Poynter, already wounded in hand-to-hand combat against overwhelming enemy forces, saw three machine guns setting up only 25 yards away. Gathering hand grenades from fallen comrades, he stormed all three positions in rapid succession, killing the crews of two guns and “putting the other out of action before he fell, mortally wounded.” His attack enabled his outnumbered men to beat off the enemy assault and move to more defensible positions.
He had also been awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for “outstanding leadership, ability and courageous aggressiveness against the enemy” as a squad leader from 24 September to 4 October 1950.
James Irsley Poynter was born 1 December 1916 in Bloomington, Illinois. He enlisted in the regular Marine Corps in February 1942 and subsequently participated in the Guadalcanal, Southern Solomons, Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa campaigns. He was discharged in February 1946.
Arriving in Korea in time to aid in the recapture of Seoul after the Inchon landing, Sgt Poynter was a squad leader of Company A, 7th Marines at the time of his death.