The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

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

United States Marine Corps
Robert O'Malley



Corporal Robert E. O'Malley
United States Marine Corps

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the communist (Viet Cong) forces at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Squad Leader in Company I, Third Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced) near An Cu'ong 2, South Vietnam, on 18 August 1965. While leading his squad in the assault against a strongly entrenched enemy force, his unit came under intense small arms fire. With complete  disregard for his personal safety, Corporal O'Malley raced across an open rice paddy to a trench line where the enemy forces were located. Jumping into the trench, he attacked the Viet Cong with his rifle and grenades, and singly killed eight of the enemy. He the led his squad to the assistance of an adjacent Marine unit which was suffering heavy casualties. Continuing to press forward, he reloaded his weapon and fired with telling effect into the enemy emplacement.  He personally assisted in the evacuation of several wounded Marines, and again regrouping the remnants of his squad, he returned to the point of the heaviest fighting. Ordered to and evacuation point by and officer, Corporal O'Malley gathered his besieged and badly wounded squad,  and boldly led them under fire to a helicopter for withdrawal. Although three times wounded in this encounter, and facing imminent death from a fanatic and determined enemy, he steadfastly refused evacuation and continued to cover his squad's boarding of the helicopter while, from and exposed position, he delivered fire against the enemy until his wounded men were evacuated. Only then, with his last mission accomplished, did he permit himself to be removed from the battlefield. By his valor, leadership, and courageous efforts in behalf of his comrades, he served as an inspiration to all who observed him, and reflected the highest credit upon the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Lyndon B. Johnson
President of the United States

Sergeant Robert E. O’Malley was the first Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor, the Nation’s highest decoration, for conspicuous gallantry in combat as a corporal in Vietnam on 18 August 1965. He was decorated by President Johnson at a White House ceremony on 6 December 1966.

Robert Emmett O’Malley was born 3 June 1943, in New York, New York. He attended high school there, and worked as a newspaper carrier for the Star Journal. Enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on 11 October 1961, he completed basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.

Transferred to Camp Pendleton, California, he served with the 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was promoted to private first class in May 1962.

The following year, he arrived on Okinawa as a member of the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division. While there, he was promoted to lance corporal in March 1963, and to corporal in November 1963. He returned to Camp Pendleton in 1964 as a member of the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. In October 1964, he was awarded a Good Conduct Medal upon completing three years of satisfactory service in the Marine Corps.

Corporal O’Malley was transferred overseas again in 1965 and took part in combat in Vietnam while assigned to Company I, 3d Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division. He was promoted to sergeant in December 1965.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, he holds the Purple Heart, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Vietnam Service Medal.

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