Marine first sergeant to be awarded Navy Cross for Vietnam War heroics

| November 10, 2018

Marines near Khe-SanhU.S. Marines are silhouetted as they stand on Hill 881 North after a fierce nine-day battle near Khe Sanh, Vietnam, on May 3, 1967, during the Vietnam War. (AP Photo)
By: Shawn Snow

More than a half century after his battlefield heroics during the Vietnam War, Ret. Marine 1st Sgt. John J. Lord will be awarded the Navy Cross during a Nov. 17 ceremony in Vancouver, Washington.

The Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for combat bravery, is an upgrade from the Bronze Star Lord originally was awarded in 1975.

On July 28, 1968, Lord was a sergeant serving with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines in the Republic of Vietnam when he was jolted to push his company through a deadly ambush.

During the firefight, Lord’s company commander, platoon commander and senior enlisted leadership were wounded, leaving Lord to take the helm of his unit.

As machine gun and small arms fire rained down on the Marine platoon from a concealed North Vietnamese Army battalion, “Lord unhesitatingly maneuvered across the fire-swept terrain and skillfully deployed the platoon against the enemy,” the award citation reads.

On multiple occasions Lord exposed himself to enemy fire to rescue wounded comrades.

As Lord took over command of the entire company, he located one of the only functioning radios and began to direct air support against the enemy.

According to the award citation, Lord’s actions helped turn the tide of the battle.

The article goes on to showcase the dedication of his former Company Commander, now retired Lt. Col. Michael Sweeney, and his tireless efforts helped to award 1stSgt Lord for his acts during the ambush.

Read the rest at The Marine Corps Times

Category: Marines

Comments (13)

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  1. Mason says:

    I can’t believe that he was only awarded a BSM for that! BZ to the First Sergeant. Way, way, way overdue.

  2. 5th/77th FA says:

    Shoulda got awarded some bling when it came down, not nearly 10 years later; and then again 43 years later, upgraded not nearly enough. BZ to his former Company CO for pushing. BZ to the Sergeant for his actions in helping to save his Marines. The linked article didn’t say, or I missed it, but I believe the SGT was not a 1st SGT at the time. “Officers and senior enlisted were wounded when he took command.”

    • Yes it he was a Sgt, just about 2 months and only 20 years old. First Sgt was what he was after his career in the Marine Corps. I was there with him and help start the crusade to he him the Navy Cross.

  3. The Stranger says:

    A Marine’s Marine, no doubt about it. BZ Top.

    Also, is it just me or does that Marine have a bayonet affixed to his rifle in the picture above? I thought the official story was the last bayonet engagement the US was involved in was in Korea? Food for thought…

    • AW1Ed says:

      Looks like an M-16 front sight to me.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Correct. The man has a bayonet fixed.

    • Messkit says:

      “Bayonet Engagement” is a planned assault or defense by the entire force. Simply adding another bit of deadly kit, is not an engagement.

      BTW, the Brits pulled off the last bayonet charge…s;

      In May, 2004, a detachment from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders surprised a force of 100 insurgents near Al Amara, Iraq with a bayonet charge. British casualties were light, but nearly 28 guerrillas were killed.

      And as recently as October of 2011, a British Army lance corporal named Sean Jones led a squad of soldiers from the Prince of Wales Royal Regiment in a bayonet charge against Taliban fighters in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. After being ambushed and pinned down by militants, the 25-year-old ordered his squad to advance into a hail of machine gun fire. “We had to react quickly,” Jones remarked. “I shouted ‘follow me’ and we went for it.” He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions. Even in an age of GPS-guided bombs, unmanned drones and network-centric warfare, 300-year-old technology — like the simple bayonet — can still carry the day.

      • Mason says:

        I hadn’t heard about any of that. Glad to hear the Brits are keeping the spirit of Mad Jack Churchill alive. For an “officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”

      • 11B-Mailclerk says:

        How can that be? The wise folks who ponder such things have determined that the Bayonet is obsolete!


  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    I can only say it’s about time this happened and that I’m glad Mr. Sweeny was this persistent.

  5. 1stCavRVN11B says:

    I have a good friend who was here, E.P. “Grizzly” Smiley from Baton Rouge, now passed several years back. Too bad he can’t be here to acknowledge this man. I’m sure he’s smiling from heaven! Too many of my VN buddies & friends are passing way to soon.

  6. Ken.T. taylor says:

    So many Hero’s have been forgotten and passed over. War brings out the true Hero’s amongst us, and the leaders who lead. But the Men know who they are and those who went with them know their names. They shall not be forgotten by those who care.