A Marine was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the Vietnam War more than half a century after his heroic deeds.
Lance Cpl. Raymond Kelley received the Silver Star at a ceremony hosted by the National Museum of the Marine Corps on May 18 ― exactly 51 years after the fateful incident that earned him the nation’s third highest award for combat bravery.
Kelley was a machine gun team leader serving with Company D, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, on May 18, 1967, when his outfit was tasked to provide relief to a pinned down unit.
Kelley maneuvered his team to provide suppressive fire on the enemy position, but enemy fire intensified on Kelley’s unit and the team took multiple casualties.
“Disregarding his own safety, Lance Corporal Kelley repeatedly placed himself in the open in order to assist the wounded Marines to the platoon command post where they could receive medical attention,” the award citation reads.
Kelley refused to allow his position to be captured by the enemy, “and ignoring his own wounds, murderously engaged the enemy until they broke contact,” the citation states.
The Silver Star award was approved in August 2017, but Kelley and fellow Marines waited until the anniversary of the firefight, museum officials told Marine Corps Times.
Kelley’s Silver Star is the second this year to be awarded to a Marine who fought in the Vietnam War.
First Lt. Philip H. Sauer was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for holding off an enemy attack with his .45-caliber pistol while on a recon patrol of Hill 861 in Vietnam.
Sauer and his five-man patrol came under a sudden attack on April 24, 1967, which immediately killed the point man. Sauer ordered his men to withdraw and held the position with his pistol. He sacrificed his life that day so that some of his men could live to fight another day.
His surviving siblings accepted the award at a ceremony held aboard Camp Pendleton, California, on April 24, exactly 51 years after the storied battle.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.