A discussion at the Althouse blog eventually turned into a discussion of Medal of Honor recipients, and one commenter noted the practice of grenade-flopping which seems to be the surest route to a MOH in modern times. I noted that it was a common practice during the Battle of Iwo Jima, and in looking over the MOH winners for that battle, I noticed the name Tony Stein.
I first read about Iwo Jima in the early '70's as a teen, and of the many heroes of that battle, none seemed to me more heroic than Tony Stein. Here is the citation for his MOH:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
CORPORAL TONY STEIN
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company A, First Battalion, Twenty-Eighth Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, in the Volcano Island, February 19, 1945. The first man of his unit to be on station after hitting the beach in the initial assault, Corporal Stein, armed with a personally improvised aircraft-type weapon, provided rapid covering fire as the remainder of his platoon attempted to move into position and, when his comrades were stalled by a concentrated machine-gun and mortar barrage, gallantly stood upright and exposed himself to the enemy's view, thereby drawing the hostile fire to his own person and enabling him to observe the location of the furiously blazing hostile guns. Determined to neutralize the strategically placed weapons, he boldly charged the enemy pillboxes one by one and succeeded in killing twenty of the enemy during the furious single-handed assault. Cool and courageous under the merciless hail of exploding shells and bullets which fell on all sides, he continued to deliver the fire of his skillfully improvised weapon at a tremendous rate of speed which rapidly exhausted his ammunition. Undaunted, he removed his helmet and shoes to expedite his movements on ran back to the beach for additional ammunition, making a total of eight trips under intense fire and carrying or assisting a wounded man back each time. Despite the unrelenting savagery and confusion of battle, he rendered prompt assistance to his platoon whenever the unit was in position, directing the fire of a half-track against a stubborn pillbox until he had effected the ultimate destruction of the Japanese fortification. Later in the day, although his weapon was twice shot from his hands, he personally covered the withdrawal of his platoon to the company position. Stouthearted and indomitable, Corporal Stein, by his aggressive initiative, sound judgment and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of terrific odds, contributed materially to the fulfillment of his mission, and his outstanding valor throughout the bitter hours of conflict sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
/S/ HARRY S. TRUMAN
Stein was a machinist before the war, or had machine shop experience. The weapon he carried on Iwo Jima was a .30 machine gun that he salvaged from a wrecked warplane and converted for use as a personal weapon. He called it the Stinger. Here's a photo:
It looks as if Stein removed the action from an M1 Garand and fitted the shoulder stock to the machine gun body, and added a canister to contain an ammo belt. I can't imagine that the belts were large, probably only 25-30 rounds, otherwise
Stein couldn't have even lifted the piece, even with the strength of a gorilla. (Why he didn't just use a BAR is baffling). Stein, as noted in the citation above, used the Stinger to great effect during the opening day of the battle. He was killed later in the same campaign, dying in battle.
Here's the man himself:
Nowadays, of course, Hollywood won't make a movie about such a man, unless he's also an alcoholic, a drug abuser, or tortured by PTSD. But Tony Stein was a true American hero. Rest In Peace, Warrior.