Friday, September 16, 2011

TFH 9/16: Corporal Joseph Vittori, USMCR

Joseph Vittori was born on August 1, 1929 in Beverly, MA. While in high school he also worked on the family farm until enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1946. From 1946 to 1949, he served in a variety of roles until being discharged. He reenlisted on September 26, 1950 to serve his country during the Korean War.

Corporal Vittori was first wounded in combat on June 9, 1951. After recuperating, he refused to be left in a non-combat role and asked to be returned to his comrades with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines.

During the assault on Hill 749 on September 15-16 - sixty years ago today - he held off the counter-attack of a battalion-strength enemy force almost alone. His finest hour is a story of what one determined American patriot can do in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. For his heroism, he received our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company F, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Hill 749, Korea, 15 and 16 September 1951. Entered service at: Beverly, Mass. Born: 1 August 1929, Beverly, Mass. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an automatic-rifleman in Company F, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With a forward platoon suffering heavy casualties and forced to withdraw under a vicious enemy counterattack as his company assaulted strong hostile forces entrenched on Hill 749, Cpl. Vittori boldly rushed through the withdrawing troops with 2 other volunteers from his reserve platoon and plunged directly into the midst of the enemy. Overwhelming them in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle, he enabled his company to consolidate its positions to meet further imminent onslaughts. Quick to respond to an urgent call for a rifleman to defend a heavy machine gun positioned on the extreme point of the northern flank and virtually isolated from the remainder of the unit when the enemy again struck in force during the night, he assumed position under the devastating barrage and, fighting a single-handed battle, leaped from 1 flank to the other, covering each foxhole in turn as casualties continued to mount manning a machine gun when the gunner was struck down and making repeated trips through the heaviest shellfire to replenish ammunition. With the situation becoming extremely critical, reinforcing units to the rear pinned down under the blistering attack and foxholes left practically void by dead and wounded for a distance of 100 yards, Cpl. Vittori continued his valiant stand, refusing to give ground as the enemy penetrated to within feet of his position, simulating strength in the line and denying the foe physical occupation of the ground. Mortally wounded by the enemy machine gun and rifle bullets while persisting in his magnificent defense of the sector where approximately 200 enemy dead were found the following morning, Cpl. Vittori, by his fortitude, stouthearted courage, and great personal valor, had kept the point position intact despite the tremendous odds and undoubtedly prevented the entire battalion position from collapsing. His extraordinary heroism throughout the furious nightlong battle reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. 

Corporal Vittori's parents received his Medal of Honor from President Truman on September 7, 1952. In 1952, Joseph Vittori's remains were returned from a temporary cemetery in Korea to lie at rest in his home town.

Joseph Vittori, I salute and honor you. Thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Nation and the cause of Liberty.


  1. Thank you for keeping the memory of my Great Uncle Joey alive. His memory has been a source of grief, inspiration and pride for me and my family since I can remember, but it had been a while since I read his Citation... He was not only an amazing Marine and American, but also an amazing man.... My Mother was his Niece and loved him dearly...

    Thanks again

  2. I am Cpl. Vittoris Great Niece, Amy. I just wanted to thank you for keeping his memory alive. It had been a while since I had read his citation and it reminds me what an amazing man, soldier and American he was. He was always a source of incredible pride, grief and inspiration to us all. I hope he is that for others as well!
    Many thanks...

  3. Thanks for visiting, Amy. I'm glad you found your way here. I'm sure you didn't realize I have comment moderation turned on, so I put up both of yours anyway.

    I'm always floored when the relatives of our heroes find their way to my tributes, and I wish you and your family all the best this holiday season and a very Merry Christmas.



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