GySgt to receive MOH for Hue City, 1968
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  1. #1

    GySgt to receive MOH for Hue City, 1968

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    Marine Gunny Gets Medal of Honor Nod for Battle of Hue Actions

    With backing from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, paperwork to upgrade the Navy Cross awarded to then-Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Canley to the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Hue City in 1968 was forwarded to
    President Donald Trump on Friday.

    "After giving careful consideration to the nomination, I agree that then-Gunnery Sergeant Canley's actions merit the award of the Medal of Honor," Mattis said last month in a letter to Rep. Julia Brownley, D-California, Canley's chief sponsor in Congress.

    Mattis noted that Congress would first have to waive the five-year limit for recommending the Medal of Honor, but once that happened, "I will provide my endorsement to the president."

    In a statement Friday, Brownley said the House waived the time limit on Dec. 21 and the Senate took similar action Thursday.

    All that is needed now is Trump's signature to give the nation's highest award for valor to the 80-year-old Canley, of Oxnard, California, who retired as a sergeant major and is reportedly battling cancer, Brownley said.

    In the brutal battle to retake Hue City in 1968, Canley's "valorous actions and unwavering dedication to his fellow service members is the reason so many of the men who support his nomination are alive today to testify on his behalf. His incredible gallantry and selflessness is an inspiration to us all," Brownley said.

    In his account published last year -- "Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam," Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down" about the Battle of Mogadishu, cited Canley's actions in the house-to-house fighting more than 30 times.

    In a statement to Brownley on the MoH recommendation, Canley said, "I want to profusely thank Congresswoman Brownley for her continued work helping me with this honor."

    "The credit for this award really should go to all the young Marines in Vietnam who inspired me every day. Most of them didn't receive any recognition, but they were the foundation of every battle in the Vietnam War," he said.

    John Ligato, who served as a private first class under Canley in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, in Hue, said the Medal of Honor was long overdue.

    Canley served several tours in Vietnam from 1965 to 1970.

    "The sheer cumulative effect of Gunny Canley's actions and deeds over this continued period rank with the acts of America's greatest heroes from the Revolutionary War to this present day," Ligato said. "This man is the epitome of a Marine warrior."

    Others agreed. "I spent nine months in the St. Albans hospital, required numerous surgeries and am disabled, but I would have died if [Canley] had not risked his life for mine," said Pat Fraleigh, another Marine who served under him.

    The battle of Hue "was not the first time I saw Gunny Canley act heroically," Fraleigh said.

    In previous fighting at the Con Thien Marine base near the demilitarized zone, Canley "not only carried Marines to safety, but also exposed himself to enemy fire. He was always leading and attacking the enemy and always standing up and encouraging us," he said.

    Canley's Navy Cross cites his actions from Jan.31 to Feb. 6, 1968, during which he took command of Alpha Company when the company commander was wounded.

    "On 31 January, when his company came under a heavy volume of enemy fire near the city of Hue, Gunnery Sergeant Canley rushed across the fire-swept terrain and carried several wounded Marines to safety," the citation states.

    Canley then "assumed command and immediately reorganized his scattered Marines, moving from one group to another to advise and encourage his men. Although sustaining shrapnel wounds during this period, he nonetheless established a base of fire which subsequently allowed the company to break through the enemy strongpoint."

    On Feb. 4, "despite fierce enemy resistance," Canley managed to get into the top floor of a building held by the enemy. He then "dropped a large satchel charge into the position, personally accounting for numerous enemy killed, and forcing the others to vacate the building," the citation states.

    The battle raged on. Canley went into action again on Feb. 6 as the company took more casualties in an assault on another enemy-held building.

    "Gunnery Sergeant Canley lent words of encouragement to his men and exhorted them to greater efforts as they drove the enemy from its fortified emplacement," the citation reads. "Although wounded once again during this action, on two occasions he leaped a wall in full view of the enemy, picked up casualties, and carried them to covered positions.

    "By his dynamic leadership, courage, and selfless dedication, Gunnery Sergeant Canley contributed greatly to the accomplishment of his company's mission and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service," the citation states.

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  2. #2
    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    Long, long overdue.

    I've studied the history of the Battle of Hue extensively over the years. I always thought that Gunny Canley defined the epitome of a Company Gunnery Sergeant as well as a Marine Warrior.


  3. #3
    As I have stated many times....there were so many Marines that warranted decorations of Valor, you couldn't count them all. During Nam, your act of Valor had to be witnessed by an officer to be recommended for a decoration of Valor.


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    Not necessarily. See: L/cpl Miguel Keith. Awarded the MOH for action in a CAP. There were no officers in CAP platoons. The highest ranking Marine allowed was E-5.


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    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    That's true about not needing officers as witnesses on acts of valor for medals. The requirement is two American witnesses minimum.


  6. #6
    As with everything in the Military there are guidelines and criteria, thus I present the link to the Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual, the definitive straight scoop to what awards require what criteria and witnesses, recommendations...

    http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Pu...%201650.1H.pdf



  7. #7
    I was told awhile back that at Hue with us taking the citidel the 1/5 only received 4 bronze stars and 1 silver star within the entire battalion. That's totally hard to believe the way my brothers fought. Just saying.


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Zulu 36 View Post
    That's true about not needing officers as witnesses on acts of valor for medals. The requirement is two American witnesses minimum.
    Not true Zulu.... if it was damn near every Marine Grunt in Nam would have at least one. All it would take is your 2 buddies to tell what you did....next week they do it for you....so on so forth. After a while everyone has a medal of Valor. That's why it takes an Officer to have observed it. You see on the news, men being awarded medals of Valor years after his service brothers have petitioned Congress, they don't just take any word of mouth comment.. If the evidence of your Valor is solid, as far as the evidence shows, then your Co or Bn. Commander can put you in for a Valor decoration.


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by advanced View Post
    I was told awhile back that at Hue with us taking the citidel the 1/5 only received 4 bronze stars and 1 silver star within the entire battalion. That's totally hard to believe the way my brothers fought. Just saying.
    Russ, that's because it had to be observed by an Officer. At least during Nam.


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    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    Billy, a friend of mine got a Navy Cross in Nam. His two witnesses were a SSgt and another L/Cpl. Closest officer to their fight was probably an NVA officer, who may or may not have survived. I've seen the paperwork.

    SSgt Jimmie Howard got the MOH. His two witnesses were both L/Cpls. I've seen the paperwork.

    A lot of guys didn't get awards because their only witnesses died before they could make written statements, whether they were officers or enlisted. Sad, but true.

    The awards manual of the time (which I have read), says nothing about only officers being allowed as witnesses to acts of valor. However, an officer was needed to approve and sign the award recommendation. That was usually the unit CO or XO. They did not have to actually witness the act, just approve the rec and kick it upstairs.


  11. #11
    Why was we never told that?? Why would the very men who was in the thick of the battle, not given that info Chris. Why, as I have stated before, seen many acts of Valor as well as other Marines with me, never told we could be witness's. Why was it never mentioned. What you have said is the first time I have ever heard that. If I'm wrong, I will be the first to say so......


  12. #12
    Chris.....after researching...I will take my foot out of my mouth long enough to say.....I could not find anything to back up my comments. I don't know why I thought what I did, but, your statement about 2 witnesses is correct. That means an apology is in order, brother.


  13. #13
    Having read extensively about awards for Valor in the past 24 hours.....I have found some very interesting facts. During the Viet Nam War, there was many Bn. Commanders, that issued orders that all officers under his Command, be awarded a medal of Valor. A citation was written, signed and passed up for approval. The SS and the BS, was termed an officers good conduct medal. In many cases, the officers and Senior Enlisted personal in the Rear Echelon, had 4 times more valor decorations than those troops actually engaged in Combat. There have been honest officers that have said, the events on their citation for the SS, never happened. In some combat units in Nam.....the Bn. Commander set a criteria, that so many decorations be issued each month, regardless of truth. They thought if they didn't have quite a few citations of valor, their unit would be looked upon as not engaging the enemy as they should. The citations would be in proportion with the enemy body count. In summary, there was many, many men overlooked for their valor, because the criteria for some decorations of valor was an everyday event for most Grunts in combat. Thus, you have to curtail it, to keep it meaningful. This is an INSULT to the Marine Grunts who served in Nam.


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    Marine Free Member FistFu68's Avatar
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    Screw Em Billy,Medals donít feed the Bulldog


  15. #15
    Squad Leader Platinum Member Zulu 36's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mongoose View Post
    Chris.....after researching...I will take my foot out of my mouth long enough to say.....I could not find anything to back up my comments. I don't know why I thought what I did, but, your statement about 2 witnesses is correct. That means an apology is in order, brother.
    No need to apologize, Billy. Enough BS went on over awards, not just in Nam either. I wouldn't be surprised at all if many troops weren't told of the officer only witness tale to cover their abuse of the system.

    In WWII, if you read or watched The Band of Brothers story, when the 101st Airborne jumped into Normandy, the officers were told that only one Medal of Honor would be approved for the whole division for the D-Day jump (actually, one for each division participating in the D-Day campaign). This was true too, although the 1st Infantry Division managed to finagle two.

    When Dick Winters led the part of Easy Company to take the German artillery battery at Brecourt Manor the day after the jump, he was recommended for the Medal of Honor. He was denied that because an MOH had already been approved for the D-Day campaign in the 101st, and received the Distinguished Service Cross instead. A LtCol battalion commander received the MOH for the 101st. From my research, it was well deserved, but you know how that can go.

    Also in WWII, my dad was recommended for the Navy Cross by his platoon commander, a mustang 1stLt with extensive battle experience. The witnesses were a couple of junior enlisted men, same as my dad was. Dad had gone out under heavy machine gun and grenade fire to rescue his patrol leader, who turned out to have been killed at the beginning of the ambush. Dad then helped the rest of his patrol kill the Japanese machine gunners. It was bumped down to a Bronze Star w/"V", plus a Purple Heart (one of his two official Hearts) at the review board at FMF-Pac. He was endorsed as approved at regiment (6th Marines) and division (2d), but not at FMF-Pac. He didn't get a battalion level endorsement because his platoon, scout-snipers, worked directly for the 6th Marines regimental CO.

    The Marine Corps has been notoriously stingy with valor awards throughout it's history though.


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