Richard A Pittman
Richard was born on the 26th of May, 1945, in Stockton, California, where he went to school and graduated from Franklin High School in June of 1964. Richard attempted to enlist in the US Army and Navy but was turned down due to being legally blind in one eye. He was able to enlist in the US Marine Corps Reserve on the 27th of September, 1965, and by December, he was at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, for recruit training. Shortly after completing individual combat training at Camp Pendleton in California and being promoted to Private First Class, Richard was deployed to the Republic of Vietnam with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was a rifleman and squad leader and was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 1st of July, 1966. It was his actions a few weeks later that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a member of First Platoon, Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines during combat operations near the Demilitarized Zone, Republic of Vietnam. On July 24, 1966, while Company I was conducting an operation along the axis of a narrow jungle trail, the leading company elements suffered numerous casualties when they suddenly came under heavy fire from a well concealed and numerically superior enemy force. Hearing the engaged Marines' calls for more firepower, Sergeant (then Lance Corporal) Pittman quickly exchanged his rifle for a machine gun and several belts of ammunition, left the relative safety of his platoon, and unhesitatingly rushed forward to aid his comrades. Taken under intense enemy small-arms fire at point blank range during his advance, he returned the fire, silencing the enemy positions. As Sergeant Pittman continued to forge forward to aid members of the leading platoon, he again came under heavy fire from two automatic weapons which he promptly destroyed. Learning that there were additional wounded Marines fifty yards further along the trail, he braved a withering hail of enemy mortar and small-arms fire to continue onward. As he reached the position where the leading Marines had fallen, he was suddenly confronted with a bold frontal attack by 30 to 40 enemy. Totally disregarding his own safety, he calmly established a position in the middle of the trail and raked the advancing enemy with devastating machine-gun fire. His weapon rendered ineffective, he picked up a submachine gun and, together with a pistol seized from a fallen comrade, continued his lethal fire until the enemy force had withdrawn. Having exhausted his ammunition except for a grenade which he hurled at the enemy, he then rejoined his own platoon. Sergeant Pittman's daring initiative, bold fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty inflicted many enemy casualties, disrupted the enemy attack and saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades. His personal valor at grave risk to himself reflects the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Four months later, Richard was promoted to Corporal before returning to the states and serving as a postal clerk at Camp Pendleton. Here he was promoted to Sergeant and discharged four months later. Richard received the Medal of Honor from President Johnson on the 14th of May, 1968, in a ceremony at the White House and he reenlisted in 1970. After 21 years of service, Richard, now a Master Sergeant, retired on the 27th of October, 1988, and resided in his hometown of Stockton, California. Richard Allan Pittman died on the 13th of October, 2016 at the age of 71 and is buried in the Cherokee Memorial Park in Lodi, California; Garden of Freedom, Block 2761, Space 6.