Friday, March 30, 2012

TFH 3/30: Second Lieutenant John P. Bobo, USMCR

John Paul Bobo was born on Valentine's Day, 1943 in Niagara Falls, NY. He graduated from Niagara University in 1965 and received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on December 17 of that year. In 1966, he was sent to fight in Vietnam with the active Marines, joining Company I, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment - then part of the 3rd Marine Division.

On March 30, 1967, Bobo's unit was establishing night positions when they came under heavy attack. He was placing his men in a hasty defense when an enemy mortar round impacted his position. His right leg was severed below the knee. With a web belt wrapped around his leg acting as a tourniquet, he kept fighting.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (A-L):


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Place and date: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, 30 March 1967. Entered service at: Buffalo, N.Y. Born: 14 February 1943, Niagara Falls, N.Y. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Company 1 was establishing night ambush sites when the command group was attacked by a reinforced North Vietnamese company supported by heavy automatic weapons and mortar fire. 2d Lt. Bobo immediately organized a hasty defense and moved from position to position encouraging the outnumbered marines despite the murderous enemy fire. Recovering a rocket launcher from among the friendly casualties, he organized a new launcher team and directed its fire into the enemy machine gun positions. When an exploding enemy mortar round severed 2d Lt. Bobo's right leg below the knee, he refused to be evacuated and insisted upon being placed in a firing position to cover the movement of the command group to a better location. With a web belt around his leg serving as a tourniquet and with his leg jammed into the dirt to curtain the bleeding, he remained in this position and delivered devastating fire into the ranks of the enemy attempting to overrun the marines. 2d Lt. Bobo was mortally wounded while firing his weapon into the main point of the enemy attack but his valiant spirit inspired his men to heroic efforts, and his tenacious stand enabled the command group to gain a protective position where it repulsed the enemy onslaught. 2d Lt. Bobo's superb leadership, dauntless courage, and bold initiative reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Here is the account of a Marine who served as one of Lieutenant Bobo's squad leaders during the Medal of Honor action. He is listed on Panel 17E, Line 70 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC and rests in peace in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Lewiston, NY.

Bobo's company commander, Captain Michael Peter Getlin, was also killed during the same battle and posthumously received the Navy Cross for his own heroic acts. He will be the subject of a future Their Finest Hour tribute.

3rd Battalion, 9th Marines - the "Shadow Warriors" - was reactivated on May 20, 2008 and today is attached to the 2nd Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division. Their home station is Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC.

USMC forces in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea areas are supported by the Military Sealift Command's Maritime Prepositioning Squadron One. The five ships of the squadron carry enough weapons, equipment, and supplies to sustain a Marine Expeditionary Brigade in combat for 30 days. One of those five ships that bring our Marines what they need to fight is the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008).

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