Vietnam War Hero to be Awarded Medal of Honor

January 19, 2019



Sergeant Major John L. Canley, who has received a recommendation from Congress to receive a Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Hue City in 1968.

Image: Alpha Company website 


According to Stars and Stripes, a retired Marine sergeant major who twice scaled a concrete wall unprotected and in full view of enemy fighters so he could move wounded troops to safety in the midst of the Battle of Hue during the Vietnam War will receive the Medal of Honor next month, the White House announced Tuesday.


President Trump will present the award to Canley, 80, for his actions during the Vietnam War in a ceremony on Oct. 17, making him the 300th Marine to receive the nation's highest military medal.


During the mission, the former gunnery sergeant was tasked with leading more than 140 men through an intense week-long battle to retake Hue City from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, 1968.


His Navy Cross citation states that "When his company came under a heavy volume of enemy fire near the city of Hue [on Jan. 31], Gunnery Sergeant Canley rushed across the fire-swept terrain and carried several wounded Marines to safety," With his company commander seriously wounded, Canley assumed command and led the Marines while taking on heavy enemy fire.


For three days, "despite fierce enemy resistance, he succeeded in gaining a position immediately above the enemy strongpoint and dropped a large satchel charge into the position, personally accounting for numerous enemy killed," the citation continues. 


Canley was only 19 years old at the time.


"On two occasions he leaped a wall in full view of the enemy, picked up casualties, and carried them to covered positions," the citation reads.


Vietnam veteran Sgt. Maj. John Canley, left, talks with another Marine during a Vietnam Veteran Pinning Ceremony on Sept. 7, 2018 in Charlotte, N.C., as part of Marine Week Charlotte.
Daniel Jean-Paul/US Marine Corps


It was Canley's words of encouragement that kept the Marines pressing on, despite sustaining casualties and having multiple team members wounded. Canley himself sustained shrapnel and other wounds during the days-long siege.


Disclaimer: The appearance of US Department of Defense (DoD) visual information on this website does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. 

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