Rank and organization:   Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, 1st Battalion, 28th
Marines, 5th Marine Division.
Place and date:   Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands,
3 March 1945.
Entered service at:   Mercedes, Tex.
Birth:   26 June 1922, Rio
Grande City, Tex.
Citation:   For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at
the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of an
assault group attached to the 1st Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division
during hand-to-hand combat with enemy Japanese at Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands,
on 3 March 1945. Standing watch alternately with another marine in a terrain
studded with caves and ravines, Sgt. Harrell was holding a position in
a perimeter defense around the company command post when Japanese troops
infiltrated our lines in the early hours of dawn. Awakened by a sudden
attack, he quickly opened fire with his carbine and killed 2 of the enemy
as they emerged from a ravine in the light of a star shellburst. Unmindful
of his danger as hostile grenades fell closer, he waged a fierce lone battle
until an exploding missile tore off his left hand and fractured his thigh.
He was vainly attempting to reload the carbine when his companion returned
from the command post with another weapon. Wounded again by a Japanese
who rushed the foxhole wielding a saber in the darkness, Sgt. Harrell succeeded
in drawing his pistol and killing his opponent and then ordered his wounded
companion to a place of safety. Exhausted by profuse bleeding but still
unbeaten, he fearlessly met the challenge of 2 more enemy troops who charged
his position and placed a grenade near his head. Killing 1 man with his
pistol, he grasped the sputtering grenade with his good right hand, and,
pushing it painfully toward the crouching soldier, saw his remaining assailant
destroyed but his own hand severed in the explosion. At dawn Sgt. Harrell
was evacuated from a position hedged by the bodies of 12 dead Japanese,
at least 5 of whom he had personally destroyed in his self-sacrificing
defense of the command post. His grim fortitude, exceptional valor, and
indomitable fighting spirit against almost insurmountable odds reflect
the highest credit upon himself and enhance the finest traditions of the
U.S. Naval Service.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)