Retired Marine Sgt. Maj. John Canley will receive the Medal of Honor in October from President Donald Trump 50 years after he saved the lives of countless members of his company during one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War, USA Today reports.
Canley, 80, displayed extraordinary leadership and selflessness during the Battle of Hue in 1968 when 120 Marines were pinned by machine gun fire in a muddy ditch. Canley, the gunnery sergeant, took control after the company captain suffered life-threatening wounds and brought injured Marines to safety despite sustaining shrapnel wounds.
"He was all over the place," Herbert Watkins, one of the Marines who was there, told The Ventura County Star in January. "He was charging machine gun nests, him and [Sgt. Alfredo] Gonzalez. He was directing fire, dragging people off the street, and he was always so calm."
He was "totally fearless," added John Ligato, one of the Marines who fought alongside Canley.
"You followed him because he was a true leader — something you need in life-and-death situations."
The Medal of Honor is the military's highest honor. Canley has already received the Navy Cross, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart. Ligato and his fellow 1st Battalion Marines spent nearly 15 years pushing for Canley to be recognized with the Medal of Honor, but the request was rejected 10 times until Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., in 2014 authored a bill to waive the five-year time limit for consideration for the medal. Trump signed it in January.
Canley, 80, received the news in July from Trump.
"He just said, 'Congratulations. You waited long enough. We made it happen,'" Canley said.
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