Retired Marine Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, with a sea of ribbons and medals dangling from the covering of his enlisted dejected dress uniform, stood at absorption on Wednesday afternoon in the White House.
President Donald Trump added the ablaze blue-ribboned badge about Canley’s close during the 20-minute ceremony. Canley is the 300th Marine to be bestowed with the Badge of Honor, the nation’s accomplished accolade for “conspicuous address and intrepidity” in combat.
Earlier this year, the admiral had accustomed the Badge of Honor, an advancement from the Navy Cross badge the Department of the Navy had awarded him in 1970 for his accomplishments during the Activity of Hue. A aldermanic accomplishment backward aftermost year had waived the time limitations for application Canley the Badge of Honor.
The cardinal activity accomplishments accustomed to Canley began on Jan. 31, 1968, aback then-Gunnery Sgt. John Canley’s infantry assemblage – 1st Battalion, 1st Marines from Camp Pendleton, Calif., – got orders to accomplish their way to Hue, a avant-garde burghal forth the Perfume River. South Vietnamese forces, as able-bodied as the Aggressive Assistance Command-Vietnam compound, were beneath advance by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces.
Canley was the aggregation arms baker for Alpha, 1/1. He and about 150 Marines pushed into the burghal forth with some tanks and Army armored cartage on Route 1 afore the accompany encountered adversary fire, including snipers and rockets. Alpha Company’s commander, Capt. Gordon D. Batcheller, was blood-soaked several times but abide to led his men advanced during the antecedent acute angry afore he was alone and abandoned to the adjacent abject at Phu Bai.
With that, Canley, a six-foot-four Arkansas built-in declared in a Marine Corps album as “a behemothic of a man,” stepped in and took command as Alpha, 1/1, pushed into the city.
For the aing three days, Canley led his men in pitched battles as the Marines and soldiers confused through the burghal abundant with civilians. They anchored the MACV compound, but it would booty intense, block-by-block, close-in, blood-soaked activity by them and reinforcements to dislodge and annihilate the NVA forces.
Canley “led his aggregation through the fog and rain, and in house-to-house — actual vicious, actual adamantine — combat,” the admiral said. “He assaulted adversary strongholds; dead adversary fighters; and, with baleful accuracy, did aggregate you had to do. He raced into abundant apparatus gun blaze on abounding occasions, all to save his adolescent Marines. In one agonizing assurance afterwards another, John risked his own activity to save the lives of those beneath his command.”
After several canicule in command, Canley handed the reins of Alpha to then-1st Lt. Ray L. Smith. On Feb. 4, the Marines pushed adjoin the Joan of Arc Academy and church, area Viet Cong were holed up, and begin themselves in pitched, affectionate battle. At one point arch one accumulation of Marines, according to his accolade citation, Canley “moved into the accessible to draw fire, amid the enemy, alone the threat, and broadcast the company’s authority on the architecture allowance by room. Arms Baker Canley again acquired position aloft the adversary strongpoint and alone in a ample attache allegation that affected the adversary to withdraw.”
“After an acute day of fighting, John and his adolescent Marines absolved the school. But John wasn’t done yet. Despite comestible austere injuries — very, actual austere injuries — he connected to face bottomward the adversary with no anticipation for his own safety,” the admiral said. “John waged seven beeline canicule of bound combat, alone extenuative the lives of added than 20 Marines. By the battle’s end, American Marines had defeated the communists and taken aback the city.”
In 1970, Canley was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest activity accolade accustomed to Marines. But over the years back the Vietnam war ended, some Alpha 1/1 Marines had apprenticed the aggressive to get their “gunny” accustomed with the celebrated Badge of Honor years alike afterwards antecedent attempts were rebuffed. “I afraid he was so admirable of that badge and he would never get it,” aloft Pfc. John Ligato told the Ventura County Star in July. “I didn’t appetite him to get it posthumously.”
Ligato was one of 30 activity veterans who abounding the White House ceremony, some men who had been blood-soaked during the Activity for Hue. Dolia Gonzalez, mother of the backward Sgt. Alfredo “Freddy” Gonzalez – a Texan with Alpha’s 3rd Army whose adventuresomeness at Hue afore his final, baleful activity at the Joan of Arc Abbey becoming him a afterward Badge of Honor – additionally was in the White House audience.
Canley, a ancestor of three, was built-in in Caledonia, Ark., and retired from the Marine Corps in 1981. He lives in Oxnard, Calif., and continues to advance an alive activity and maintains the fettle akin best would apprehend of Marines, admitting not necessarily at age 80.
In his animadversion at the accolade ceremony, Trump accepted Canley for his administration and concrete presence, with a fettle akin that alike at age 80 would be the backbiting of bodies bisected his age. “John’s adolescent Marines accept declared him as a “Marine warrior” — and I can see it — who is “bigger than activity and aloft the ability of death,” the admiral said. “He is absolutely aloft than life.”
Just aftermost month, Canley aing in a morning conditioning with Marines at “Marine Week” in Charlotte, N.C. “Physical fettle is article you should put at the top of your list,” he said, in a Marine Corps account video. “…And you absolutely allegation to be physically fit in combat. That’s a must.”
“I can’t anticipate of any abode I’d rather die than with my Marines on the battlefield.” — Sgt. Maj. John Canley, -to-be the 300th Marine awarded the Badge of Honor
Watch him be awarded at the @WhiteHouse alive actuality or on our Facebook tomorrow at 4:30 P.M. pic.twitter.com/tWmix7xdsJ
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) October 16, 2018
The afterward is Canley’s Badge of Honor citation.
“The Admiral of the United States, in the name of Congress, takes amusement in application the Aldermanic Badge of Honor to Arms Baker John L. Canley, United States Marine Corps, for apparent address and adventurousness at the accident of his activity aloft and aloft the alarm of assignment in activity adjoin the adversary while confined as Aggregation Arms Sergeant, Alpha Company, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, from 31 January to 6 February 1968, in the Republic of Vietnam. Alpha Aggregation fought off assorted abandoned attacks as it rapidly confused forth the artery adjoin Huế Burghal to abate affable armament that were amidst by enemy. Despite actuality blood-soaked in these engagements, Arms Baker Canley again rushed beyond fire-swept area to backpack his blood-soaked Marines to safety. Afterwards his advantageous administrator was acutely wounded, Arms Baker Canley took command and led the aggregation into Huế City. At Huế City, bent in baleful battery from adversary apparatus gun positions, he set up a abject of blaze and maneuvered with a army in a crabbed advance that alone several adversary positions. Retaining command of the aggregation for three days, he led attacks adjoin assorted adversary adherent positions while commonly braving adversary blaze to backpack blood-soaked Marines to safety. On 4 February, he led a accumulation of Marines into an enemy-occupied architecture in Huế City. He confused into the accessible to draw fire, amid the enemy, alone the threat, and broadcast the company’s authority on the architecture allowance by room. Arms Baker Canley again acquired position aloft the adversary strongpoint and alone in a ample attache allegation that affected the adversary to withdraw. On 6 February, during a angry firefight at a hospital compound, Arms Baker Canley alert scaled a bank in abounding appearance of the adversary to backpack blood-soaked Marines to safety. By his audacious courage, affectionate sacrifice, and abiding adherence to duty, Arms Baker Canley reflected abundant acclaim aloft himself and upheld the accomplished traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
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