43 Years Later, Retired Vietnam Vet Receives Navy Cross

Navy Cross
Navy Cross

FORT MEADE, Maryland -- It's the summer of 1968 in Vietnam, a sergeant with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines was forced into a position he never could have imagined. He had to lead his entire company through a deadly enemy ambush after the company commander, platoon commander and senior enlisted leadership were wounded in the fight.

These were the circumstances of Retired Marine 1st Sgt. John J. Lord, over half a century ago, during the Vietnam War.

Lord was awarded the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest award for combat bravery, during a ceremony at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball celebration in Vancouver, Washington on November 17. The Navy Cross award was an upgrade from a Bronze Star that Lord received in 1975, seven years after he put himself in the crosshairs of the North Vietnamese Army when rescuing his fellow Marines who were wounded.

Lord took over command of the entire company and located one of the only working radios and then started directing air support against the enemy.

The day immediately following the battle, now Retired Lt. Col. Michael Sweeney began pushing for Lord to be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism and valor during the fight. Even after the Bronze Star was awarded, Sweeney continued to push for the Navy Cross. Finally, forty-three years later, Sweeney's efforts bore fruit.

According to his citation, Lord's actions helped turned the tide of the battle. However, he always stayed true to his men and their efforts during the fight.

"Everything on that citation is true except one thing they left off," Lord said. "They left off the Marines who served with me that day."

Four of his fellow unit members were in attendance the night of the ceremony, and stood at Lord's behest to receive a standing ovation from all who were in attendance just like they did for Lord just moments prior.

Lord proclaimed how honored he was to serve with these Marines and how important they are to the mission.

"I can only stand here and say how proud I am to have served with you Marines -- and corpsman, I won't forget you too," Lord said. "I am honored to call you brothers in arms."

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