The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom

Private First Class

United States Marine Corps



Private First Class Oscar P. Austin
United States Marine Corps

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Assistant Machine Gunner with Company E, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in connection with operations against enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam . During the early morning hours of 23 February 1969, Private First Class Austin's observation post was subjected to a fierce ground attack by a large North Vietnamese Army force supported by a heavy volume of hand grenades, satchel charges and small arms fire. Observing that one of his wounded companions had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to the hostile fire, Private First Class Austin unhesitatingly left the relative sucurity of his fighting hole and, with complete disregard for his own safety, raced across the fire-swept terrain to assist the Marine to a covered location. As he neared the casualty, he observed an enemy grenade land nearby and , reacting instantly, leaped between the injured Marine and the lethal object, absorbing the effect of is detonation. As he ignored his painful injuries and turned to examine the wounded man, he saw a North Vietnamese Army soldier aiming a weapon at his unconscious companion. With full knowledge of the probable consequences and thinking only to protect the Marine, Private First Class Austin resolutely threw himself between the casualty and the hostile soldier and, in so doing, was mortally wounded. Private First Class Austin's indomitable courage, inspiring initiative and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Richard M. Nixon
President of the United States

Oscar P. Austin, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam in February 1969, was born 15 January 1948, in Nacogdoches, Texas. He attended Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, and Phoenix Union High School.

Inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps at Phoenix, 22 April 1968, he completed recruit training with the 3d Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, in July 1968; individual combat training with Company T, 3d Battalion, 2d Infantry Training Regiment, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, in August 1968; and basic infantry training with Weapons Company, Basic Infantry Training Battalion, 2d Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton, in September.

Promoted to private first class, 1 October 1968, he was transferred later that month to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as ammunitions man with Company E, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. While participating in combat 6 ½ miles west of Da Nang on 23 February 1969, he was killed in action.

A complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.


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