Thursday, February 09, 2012

TFH 2/9: Lance Corporal William R. Prom, USMC

Operation TAYLOR COMMON was launched by elements of the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam on December 6, 1968 against the North Vietnamese Army in the An Hoa Basin. They were reinforced by Leathernecks from the 3rd Marine Division as well. One of the Marines was William Prom, born November 17, 1948, and who hailed from my adopted home town of Pittsburgh, PA.

On this day in 1969, Lance Corporal Prom's unit was ambushed by the NVA as they returned from a reconnaissance mission. Prom, leading a machine gun team, realized that without quick and decisive action the enemy would carry the day. His resolve and courage did not falter, and for his heroism, he was decorated with our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (M-Z):


Rank and organization: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company 1, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Place and date: Near An Hoa, Republic of Vietnam. 9 February 1969. Entered service at: Pittsburgh, Pa. Born: 17 November 1948, Pittsburgh, Pa. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machinegun squad leader with Company 1, in action against the enemy. While returning from a reconnaissance operation during Operation TAYLOR COMMON, 2 platoons of Company 1 came under an intense automatic weapons fire and grenade attack from a well concealed North Vietnamese Army force in fortified positions. The leading. element of the platoon was isolated and several marines were wounded. L/Cpl. Prom immediately assumed control of 1 of his machineguns and began to deliver return fire. Disregarding his safety he advanced to a position from which he could more effectively deliver covering fire while first aid was administered to the wounded men. Realizing that the enemy would have to be destroyed before the injured marines could be evacuated, L/Cpl. Prom again moved forward and delivered a heavy volume of fire with such accuracy that he was instrumental in routing the enemy, thus permitting his men to regroup and resume their march. Shortly thereafter, the platoon again came under heavy fire in which 1 man was critically wounded. Reacting instantly, L/Cpl. Prom moved forward to protect his injured comrade. Unable to continue his fire because of his severe wounds, he continued to advance to within a few yards to the enemy positions. There, standing in full view of the enemy, he accurately directed the fire of his support elements until he was mortally wounded. Inspired by his heroic actions, the marines launched an assault that destroyed the enemy. L/Cpl. Prom's indomitable courage, inspiring initiative and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. 

Today, the 1st Marine Division is the ground combat element of the I Marine Expeditionary Force. 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines still serves with the 3rd Marine Division as part of the III Marine Expeditionary Force

William Raymond Prom rests not far from my home in Allegheny Memorial Park, Allison Park, PA. This upcoming Memorial Day, I'm going to make it a point to visit his grave in honor and thanksgiving for the life and courage of this great American. He appears on Panel 32W, Line 2 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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