Retired Marine Maj. Edward F. Wright was awarded the Silver Star Friday at a ceremony in Portland, Oregon, for his battlefield heroics in Vietnam nearly 51 years ago.
Wright was a second lieutenant assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines on Aug. 21, 1967, when he led a platoon-sized quick reaction force against an entrenched North Vietnamese Force that had just ambushed an Army convoy and pinned down a relief unit for his company commander.
According to his award citation, Wright organized his platoon and led them on a two-mile march toward the ambush point.
As the enemy attacked his unit with machine gun fire, rockets and grenades, Wright “tenaciously assaulted, clearing enemy positions as he advanced,” the citation reads.
“As the battle came to close combat, he rallied his men and ordered them to fix bayonets and then continued his aggressive assault," the award citation stated.
Wright and his platoon were able to rescue the ambushed Marines and soldiers.
His Silver Star is the latest in a series of awards and medal upgrades over the past couple of years for Marines who served in the Vietnam War.
In November 2018, Ret. Marine 1st Sgt. John J. Lord was awarded the Navy Cross for valor in Vietnam.
Lord was a sergeant serving with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines on July 28, 1968, when he helped lead his company through a deadly ambush after much of his leadership was injured.
The now-retired first sergeant originally was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroics. His previous company commander, now retired Lt. Col. Michael Sweeney, pushed an effort to have the medal upgraded.
And in Oct. 2018, Ret. Sgt. Maj. John Canley, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle of Hue City in 1968. Much like Lord, Canley’s leadership was largely incapacitated at the outset of the bloody Hue City fight.
Canley, then a gunnery sergeant, led his Alpha company Marines over several days through the harrowing fight in Hue City.
He was originally awarded the Navy Cross, but fellow Marines under his command spent years trying to upgrade his medal.
In April 2018, First Lt. Philip H. Sauer was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for defending his men from an ambush only armed with .45-caliber pistol. His actions on April 24, 1967 saved the lives of some of his men, but Sauer was killed during the attack.
And Lance Cpl. Raymond Kelley was awarded the Silver Star in May 2018 for helping relieve a pinned down unit during the Vietnam War while serving as a machine gunner on May 18, 1967. The Silver Star ceremony was hosted by the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Some of these awards upgrades have been fueled by social media contacts that have allowed Vietnam War veterans to reconnect, share stories, and endorse awards for valor once forgotten during the chaos of the Vietnam War.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.