Saturday, April 21, 2012

TFH 4/21: Private First Class Gary W. Martini, USMC

Gary Wayne Martini was born on September 21, 1948. He grew up in West Virginia, and lived there until after his junior year in high school when his family moved to Oregon. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at age seventeen in March 1966.

Just a year later, he was serving as a rifleman with Company F, 2d Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment in Vietnam. When his platoon assaulted an entrenched enemy position they took heavy casualties. Several wounded Marines lay exposed to the enemy and couldn't reach safety. Before he succumbed to his own wounds, Martini personally saved two of his comrades and was decorated with our Nation's highest honor for his selfless courage.

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


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, Company F, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. place and date: Binh Son, Republic of Vietnam, 21 April 1967. Entered service at: portland, Oreg. Born: 21 September 1948, Lexington, Va. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 21 April 1967, during Operation UNION* elements of Company F, conducting offensive operations at Binh Son, encountered a firmly entrenched enemy force and immediately deployed to engage them. The marines in Pfc. Martini's platoon assaulted across an open rice paddy to within 20 meters of the enemy trench line where they were suddenly struck by hand grenades, intense small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire. The enemy onslaught killed 14 and wounded 18 marines, pinning the remainder of the platoon down behind a low paddy dike. In the face of imminent danger, Pfc. Martini immediately crawled over the dike to a forward open area within 15 meters of the enemy position where, continuously exposed to the hostile fire, he hurled hand grenades, killing several of the enemy. Crawling back through the intense fire, he rejoined his platoon which had moved to the relative safety of a trench line. From this position he observed several of his wounded comrades Lying helpless in the fire-swept paddy. Although he knew that 1 man had been killed attempting to assist the wounded, Pfc. Martini raced through the open area and dragged a comrade back to a friendly position. In spite of a serious wound received during this first daring rescue, he again braved the unrelenting fury of the enemy fire to aid another companion Lying wounded only 20 meters in front of the enemy trench line. As he reached the fallen marine, he received a mortal wound, but disregarding his own condition, he began to drag the marine toward his platoon's position. Observing men from his unit attempting to leave the security of their position to aid him, concerned only for their safety, he called to them to remain under cover, and through a final supreme effort, moved his injured comrade to where he could be pulled to safety, before he fell, succumbing to his wounds. Stouthearted and indomitable, Pfc. Martini unhesitatingly yielded his life to save 2 of his comrades and insure the safety of the remainder of his platoon. His outstanding courage, valiant fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty reflected the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Gary Martin's name appears on Panel 18E, Line 61 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He rests in peace at Rosewood Cemetery in Lewisberg, WV. 2d Battalion, 1st Marines today is based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA and is still part of the 1st Marine Division.

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