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Martin O'Brien

 

Date and Place of Birth: January 2, 1918 Worcester, MA
Date and Place of Death:    July 22, 1944 Chonito Ridge, Guam
Baseball Experience: College
Position: Second Base
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit: Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division USMC
Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

“The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Martin J. O'Brien"
Navy Cross citation

Martin J. O'Brien was born on January 2, 1918 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He attended Holy Cross where he was a second baseman for the Crusader baseball team under former major leaguer Jack Barry. He earned the starting spot as a sophomore, when the team posted a 10-6 record. During his junior year, the Crusaders lost their opening game and then won their remaining 15, being declared Eastern Champions. O'Brien batted .352 as a junior, and then .342 as a senior when he scored 19 runs in 18 games. The Crusaders posted a 14-3-1 mark that year. O'Brien also played three years of football at Holy Cross, with his biggest game coming when he threw two touchdown passes against Temple.

O’Brien graduated in 1941 and went to work for the Norton Company of Worcester. In February 1943, he left his wife Dorothea “Doris” (nee McNamara) and entered the Marines. He trained at Parris Island, South Carolina, and was commissioned at Quantico, Virginia.

Second Lieutenant O’Brien was the leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to the Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division which landed at Guam in July 1944. Ordered to attack Japanese positions at the crest of Chonito Ridge on July 22, O'Brien led his platoon in a frontal assault that was halted halfway by ferocious hostile machine-gun fire. O’Brien withdrew his men to safety, reassembled and led a second attack. Despite machine-gun, rifle, grenade and mortar fire, Martin O’Brien reached the crest of the ridge before he was mortally wounded.

For this act of extraordinary heroism, Second Lieutenant O’Brien was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. The citation reads as follows:

“The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Martin J. O'Brien (0-25174), Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism as Leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to the Second Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on the Asan-Adelup Beachhead, Guam, Marianas Islands, 22 July 1944. Ordered to attack enemy positions at the crest of a steep, bare ridge in an effort to seize the high ground commanding the beachhead, Second Lieutenant O'Brien courageously led his platoon in a determined assault until the advance was halted halfway up the slope by withering hostile machine-gun fire. Skillfully withdrawing the remainder of the platoon to a place of cover, he promptly reorganized his units and, constantly exhorting his men to follow him, again led the charge up the slope in the face of terrific machine-gun, rifle, grenade and mortar fire, successfully reaching the crest of the ridge before he was mortally wounded. By his inspiring leadership and dauntless fighting spirit under extremely perilous conditions, Second Lieutenant O'Brien enabled his platoon to gain its objective, and his self-sacrificing devotion to duty throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

O’Brien Square in Worcester, Massachusetts, was dedicated to 2/Lt. Martin O’Brien. It is located at
Lake Park on the Hamilton Street side, near Field House.

O’Brien was inducted in the Holy Cross Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. His widow, Doris, never remarried. She passed away in Worcester in December 2009, aged 91.

Sources
Worcester Telegram & Gazette – December 5, 2009
www.goholycross.com
www.togetherweserved.com
www.worcpublib.org

Date Added May 7, 2013

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