John Basilone enlisted in the Army at the age of 18 and served in the Philippines, where he acquired the nickname "Manila." Discharged in 1937, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 1940 as war approached.
Six months after Pearl Harbor, Sergeant "Manila" John Basilone and his fellow Marines were fighting not only for an important strategic victory but also for their very survival on the then little-known island of Guadalcanal. On the night of 24-25 October 1942, Basilone was in charge of two sections of heavy machine guns defending the vital airstrip at Henderson Field. The rain was falling in torrents, and Japanese soldiers had been coming in a virtual deluge of human waves for two days.