The Medal of Honor, is the highest award given to a member of our military for valor on the battlefield – whether on land, sea or air. Originally designated the Congressional Medal of Honor, today it is referred to simply as the Medal of Honor.
Never having served in the U.S. Military, I am in awe of those who signed a contract with our government – a contract which can become due-and-payable with the service member’s life. But awe does not properly express how I feel when I see a soldier, sailor or airman receive this award in person. Most receive the honor posthumously. I have always been enamored with MoH recipients since I was in seventh grade and my English teacher, Mr. Hutton, used to read MoH citations at the start of class.
On October 17, 2018, President Donald J. Trump awarded Sergeant Major (Ret.), John L. Canley, of the United States Marine Corps, the Medal of Honor for his service during the Battle of Hue, Vietnam.
The President of the United States, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to Gunnery Sergeant John L. Canley, United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy while serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant, Alpha Company, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, from 31 January to 6 February 1968, in the Republic of Vietnam. Alpha Company fought off multiple vicious attacks as it rapidly moved along the highway toward Hue City to relieve friendly forces that were surrounded by the enemy. Despite being wounded in these engagements, Gunnery Sergeant Canley repeatedly rushed across fire-swept terrain to carry his wounded marines to safety. After his commanding officer was severely wounded, Gunnery Sergeant Canley took command and led the company into Hue City. At Hue City, caught in a deadly crossfire from enemy machine gun positions, he set up a base of fire and maneuvered with a platoon in a flanking attack that eliminated several enemy positions. Retaining command of the company for three days, he led attacks against multiple enemy fortified positions while routinely braving enemy fire to carry wounded marines to safety. On 4 February, he led a group of marines into an enemy occupied building in Hue City. He moved into the open to draw fire, located the enemy, eliminated the threat, and expanded the company’s hold on the building room by room. Gunnery Sergeant Canley then gained position above the enemy strongpoint and dropped in a large satchel charge that forced the enemy to withdraw. On 6 February, during a fierce fire fight at a hospital compound, Gunnery Sergeant Canley twice scaled a wall, in full view of the enemy, to carry wounded marines to safety. By his undaunted courage, selfless sacrifice, and unwavering devotion to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Canley reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Semper Fi, Gunney! Your courage will not be forgotten!