Tony Stein was a United states Marine who posthumously received the U.S. military’s highest decoration, and r, for his actions. He received the award for repeatedly making single-handed assaults against the enemy and for aiding wounded Marines during the initial assault on Iwa Jima on February 19, 1945. He was killed in action ten days later.
Stein was born in Dayton Ohio, on September 30, 1921, to a family of Austrian Jewish immigrants, and attended Kiser High School there. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on September 22, 1942.
Stein was a member of the elite Paramarines from the end of his recruit training until the Paramarines were disbanded in 1944. Assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion, 1st Parachute Regiment, 3rd Marine Division “Fighting Third” , Stein fought in the Vella Lavella and Bougainville Campaigns, shooting five snipers in a single day during the latter operation. A toolmaker prior to the war, Stein customized a 30 caliber M1919 Browning machine gun from a wrecked Navy fighter plane into a highly effective personal machine gun he nicknamed the “Stinger”. After the Paramarines were disbanded, Stein returned to Camp Pendleton , California, where he was promoted to corporal and assigned as an assistant squad leader to Company A, 1st Battalion, 28th Marines in the newly formed the 5th Marine Division “Spearhead” .
On February 19, 1945, he took part in the amphibious landings which began the Battle of Iwo Jima. As his unit moved inland, he stormed a series of hostile pillboxes using his “stinger” and made eight trips back to the beach to retrieve ammunition, each time taking a wounded Marine with him. It was for his actions on this day that he was later awarded the Medal of Honor.
The 28th Marines next helped capture Mount Suribachi itself, culminating in the raising of the US flag on the mountain’s peak on February 23. Stein was wounded during the fight for Suribachi and evacuated to a hospital ship. Meanwhile, his regiment advanced up the west side of the island until reaching the strongly defended Hill 362A , where they took heavy casualties. When Stein heard of this, he left the hospital ship and returned to his unit. On March 1, he was killed, age 23, by a Japanese sniper while leading a 19-man patrol to reconnoiter a machine gun emplacement which had Company A pinned down.
Stein’s Medal of Honor was presented to his widow on February 19, 1946, during a ceremony in the office of Ohio Governor Frank Lausche.
Stein was initially buried in the 5th Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima. Following the war, his remains were returned to the U.S. for reinterment in his native Dayton. Stein, Dayton’s only World War II recipient of the Medal of Honor, was buried with full military honors on December 17, 1948, in Calvary Cemetery following funeral services at Our Lady of the Rosary Church.