President Donald Trump on Wednesday awarded the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest honor, to retired Marine Sgt. Maj. John Canley for his bravery during the Vietnam War.
“John raced straight into enemy fire over and over again, saving numerous American lives and defeating a large group of communist fighters,” Trump told the gathered audience, which included men who served with Canley in Vietnam, at the White House.
“In one harrowing engagement after another, John risked his own life to save the lives of those under his command,” Trump said, before crediting Canley with saving the lives of at least 20 other Marines during the bloody battle of Hue in 1968. “Despite sustaining serious injuries—very, very serious injuries—he continued to face down the enemy with no thought for his own safety.”
During the battle, Canley ran into the open amid crossfire so his Marines could seize a building. Canley also carried wounded soldiers to safety while leaving himself vulnerable to enemy fire.
“You make us all very proud,” Trump told the service members present.
Canley’s award came as no surprise to those who knew and served with him.
“He literally could’ve gotten two or three Medals of Honor,” John Ligato, a former Marine who served under Canley, told Newsweek. “We all have similar stories about him. There are 30 other guys that can talk about other times.”
First Lady Melania Trump also lauded Canley for his service, tweeting, “Thank you Sergeant Major John Canley for your service to our nation. It was an honor to have you & your family at the White House to receive the Medal of Honor for your heroic actions & leadership under enemy fire.”
Thank you Sergeant Major John Canley for your service to our nation. It was an honor to have you & your family at the @WhiteHouse to receive the #MedalofHonor for your heroic actions & leadership under enemy fire.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) October 17, 2018
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