An 80-year-old Marine veteran is expected to receive the nation’s highest military honor for his “conspicuous gallantry” during the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
President Trump announced Tuesday that retired Sgt. Major John Canley will receive the Medal of Honor on October 17 at the White House, becoming the sixth American and third Vietnam veteran to receive the distinction from Trump.
“It means a lot to me,” Canley told USA Today. “Mostly for my Marines because we’ve had to wait 50-plus years to get any kind of recognition.”
Canley led a team of Marines in the Battle of Hue during the Tet Offensive between January 31-February 6, 1968, carrying wounded Marines while under enemy fire in one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
Canley continued to push forward even though he was wounded multiple times during the battle.
John Ligato, a Marine and FBI agent who has written a book about Canley’s time in Vietnam, said he was amazed at Canley’s calm composure during the battle.
“He never ran and he never ducked,” Ligato told Newsweek. “You know, it’s just amazing. I don’t know if he had some sort of death wish or what — Gunny says that he just gets into a zone and does what he has to do. … I don’t know how the bullets didn’t hit him.”
Canley left his hometown of El Dorado, Arkansas, to join the Marines at the age of 15, and served for 28 years. He did several tours in Vietnam between 1965 and 1970 and received a Navy Cross for the lives he saved.