Ed enlisted in the U.S. Navy in San Francisco on January 16,1942 as an Apprentice Seaman V-6. He was sent to NTS San Diego on January 21st. On Feb. 28 he was sent to USN HCS, San Diego where he completed the 6 week basic Corpsman instruction on April 9, 1942 then was transferred to Mare Island for 3 weeks Nursing training in June, 1942.
Because the Marine Corps had no Corpsman unit, Ed was transferred from the Navy to the Second Marine Brigade via the SS Wisconsin on July 14, 1942. He was now, and for the remainder of the war, a Marine, also serving with the First Battalion, Tenth Marines and Eighth Marines. On Nov. 1, 1942, while with the Second Marine Brigade he was promoted to Pharmacists Mate Third Class. Between Oct. and Nov. 1942 he served with the 10th Marines Second Div, Eight Marines, Second Marine Division and assignments included:
Oct. 23, 1942 - Embarked on USS Hayes at Pago Pago. Arrived at Efate Island, New Hebrides, participating in landing exercises. He arrived at Guadalcanal on Nov. 4, 1942.
He received a Letter of Commendation for services rendered on January 11, 1943 from the Commanding General, Second Marine Division:
Letter of Commendation to Edwin Joseph Hearne
Battery "A", 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, Second Marine Division, FMF, In the Field, 25 February, 1943:
It is requested that a letter of commendation for exemplary action and leadership under fire be issued to Edwin Joseph Hearne.
"On 11 January, 1943, this organization was engaged in support of the perimeter defense of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands. About 0330, with no previous warning, and while the battery was resting, an enemy aircraft dropped several bombs, one landing in the center of the battery area, killing one man and wounding sixteen others. With no thought of his personal safety and knowing that more bombs might be dropped, Hearne immediately began attending to the wounded, and by his skill and cool-headed resourcefulness, saved the life of Earl L Taylor, Jr. #311739, USMC, by the prompt application of a tourniquet to his arm and morphine. His skill, courage, cool-headedness and resourcefulness helped save the lives of many more men and to alleviate the pain of the badly wounded.
signed Julian C. Smith, General
On June 1, 1943, Ed was appointed to Pharmacists Mate Second Class. From October to June 1943 he embarked on the USS William P. Biddle departing Wellington, New Zealand, participated practice landings Hawks Bay, NZ, went to Wellington, NZ then participated in practice landings at New Hebrides.
On November 20, with the Second Marine Division, he arrived and participated in landing at Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands under enemy fire. During the next week he participated in the Battle at Tarawa, and was awarded the Silver Star.
Silver Star Medal to Edwin Joseph Hearne,
Pharmacist’s Mate First Class, US Naval Reserve
For service as set forth in the following citation:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as a corpsman serving with the Second Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces at Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, on November 21, 1943. Landing on the outer edge of a 400-yard coral reef with an artillery headquarters group in the face of bitter hostilities and resistance, HEARNE immediately made his way forward across the top of a pier, then untenable to our forces, to assist casualties struck down by hostile shellfire rather than proceed to the beach under the comparative protection of the pier. Working tirelessly under constant shellfire directed from Japanese beach positions surrounding the area, he skillfully and efficiently administered first aid to wounded marines, contributing materially to the saving of many lives. By his daring initiative, outstanding fortitude and grave concern for the safety of others at great risk to his own life, HEARNE was an inspiration to those with whom he served and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
signed, C.W. Nimitz, Admiral, U.S. Navy &
For the President, James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy
Prepared 15 Feb. 1946
Statement of Lieutenant (JG) Louis H. Krauel (MC) USNR
“On November 21, 1943 I personally saw PhM2c Edwin J. Hearne giving first aid care to several wounded men on the pier while under heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the enemy and help in removing them to a place of safety. On another occasion he stopped serious bleeding for a man on the pier who had been wounded in the arm and who undoubtedly would have died of hemorrhage had Hearne sought personal safety from the enemy fire and thus delayed immediate action. There is no doubt whatever but that several men owe their present life to his courageous spirit and action.”
(The History of the Medical Department of the US Navy in WWII page 105.)
May 1, 1944 Oakland Tribune
He was also awarded the Bronze Star as part of the
"Presidential Unit Citation Award awarded to Second Marine Division for outstanding performance in combat during the seizure and occupation of the Japanese-held Atoll of Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, 20 to 24 November 1943. Edwin Hearne is authorized to wear an addition Bronze Star on his ribbon bar in lieu of the second award of the Presidential Unit Citation."
On November 27th he boarded the USS Ormsby for Pearl Harbor. He was retained in the US Navy for the duration of the war on January 16, 1944 when his two year enlistment was up. He was promoted to Pharmacist's Mate First Class on January 21, 1944. He was then transferred to the US Naval Hospital in Seattle, Washington and then, in March 1945, to the Hospital Corps School, Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia for advanced instruction.
Ed was discharged on September 28, 1945 at USNABPD, San Bruno, California and was recommended for reenlistment and for the Good Conduct Medal as well as the Honorable Discharge Button and Honorable Service Lapel Button.
"I was in the Navy, and then they transferred me to the Marine Corps. I was a corpsman. I don’t like to talk about my medal [Silver Star]. I feel the only heroes are dead. You know if you’re at a certain place at a certain time and somebody sees you, you get the medal. I never talk about it because I was only doing my job. I’m too smart to be a hero. I don’t talk about it because I don’t think I deserved it." -Ed Hearne 2002