Just hours after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese launched an attack on Wake Island, December 8, 1941. The initial enemy bombing runs destroyed eight of the twelve Wildcat fighters in the Marine squadron, VMF-211. In the following days, Captain Elrod distinguished himself in aerial combat, at one point single-handedly taking on twenty-two enemy bombers and shooting down two of them. During another engagement, his repeated low altitude bombing runs caused enough damage to sink the Japanese destroyer Kisaragi. With the remaining planes of the squadron no longer serviceable, the grounded Elrod took command of one flank of the defensive line established to resist the Japanese landing on December 23rd. With a handful of men, several of whom were unarmed, Elrod managed to hold his section of the line against repeated attacks by the numerically superior enemy forces until he fell mortally wounded. For his valiant and steadfast defense during the two weeks of resistance, Henry T. Elrod was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
(above) Presidential Unit Citation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt,
January 5, 1942