John L Canley
John was born on the 1st of February, 1938, in Caledonia, Arkansas, and had enlisted in the US Marine Corps in Little Rock at the age of 15 years old. It was his actions fifteen years later in the Republic of Vietnam that would originally earn him the Navy Cross. The upgraded citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy while serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant, Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division from 31 January to 6 February 1968, in the Republic of Vietnam. Company A fought off multiple vicious attacks as it rapidly moved along the highway toward Hue City to relieve friendly forces that were surrounded by enemy forces. Despite being wounded in these engagements, Gunnery Sergeant Canley repeatedly rushed across fire-swept terrain to carry his wounded Marines to safety. After his commanding officer was severely wounded, Gunnery Sergeant Canley took command and led the company into Hue City. At Hue City, caught in deadly crossfire from enemy machine gun positions, he set up a base of fire and maneuvered with a platoon in a flanking attack that eliminated several enemy positions. Retaining command of the company for three days, he led attacks against multiple enemy fortified positions while routinely braving enemy fire to carry wounded Marines to safety. On 4 February, he led a group of Marines into an enemy-occupied building in Hue City. He moved into the open to draw fire, located the enemy, eliminated the threat, and expanded the company’s hold on the building room by room. Gunnery Sergeant Canley then gained position above the enemy strongpoint and dropped in a large satchel charge that forced the enemy to withdraw. On 6 February, during a fierce firefight at a hospital compound, Gunnery Sergeant Canley twice scaled a wall in full view of the enemy to carry wounded Marines to safety. By his undaunted courage, selfless sacrifice, and unwavering devotion to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Canley reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
John continued to serve in the Marine Corps, reaching the rank of Sergeant Major before retiring after twenty-eight years on the 23rd of October, 1981. Thirty-five years later, a bill was sponsored to have John's Navy Cross upgraded to the Medal of Honor and on the 21st of December, 2017, the five year time limit was waived. Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James Mattis recommended the upgrade to President Trump and the upgrade was approved in July of 2018. John L Canley received the Medal of Honor from President Trump on the 17th of October, 2018, in a ceremony at the White House.