Oscar P. Austin, who was posthumously awarded
the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam in February 1969, was born 15
January 1948, in Nacogdoches, Texas. He attended Booker T. Washington
Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, and Phoenix Union High School.
Inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps at Phoenix, 22 April 1968, he completed
recruit training with the 3d Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training
Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, in July 1968;
individual combat training with Company T, 3d Battalion, 2d Infantry Training
Regiment, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, in August 1968; and
basic infantry training with Weapons Company, Basic Infantry Training
Battalion, 2d Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton, in September.
Promoted to private first class, 1 October 1968, he was transferred later
that month to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as ammunitions man with
Company E, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. While
participating in combat 6 ½ miles west of Da Nang on 23 February 1969, he was
killed in action.
A complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor,
the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service
Medal with two bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Medal of Honor citation:
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in
presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS OSCAR P. AUSTIN
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and
beyond the call of duty while serving as an Assistant Machine Gunner with
Company E, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in
connection with operations against enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam.
During the early morning hours of February 23, 1969, Private First Class
Austin's observation post was subjected to a fierce ground attack by a large
North Vietnamese Army force supported by a heavy volume of hand grenades,
satchel charges and small arms fire. Observing that one of his wounded
companions had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to the
hostile fire, Private First Class Austin unhesitatingly left the relative
security of his fighting hole and, with complete disregard for his own
safety, raced across the fire-swept terrain to assist the Marine to a covered
location. As he neared the casualty, he observed an enemy grenade land nearby
and, reacting instantly, leaped between the injured Marine and the lethal
object, absorbing the effect of its detonation. As he ignored his painful
injuries and turned to examine the wounded man, he saw a North Vietnamese
Army soldier aiming a weapon at his unconscious companion. With full
knowledge of the probable consequences and thinking only to protect the
Marine, Private First Class Austin resolutely threw himself between the
casualty and the hostile soldier and, in so doing, was mortally wounded.
Private First Class Austin's indomitable courage, inspiring initiative and
selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps
and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his
/S/RICHARD M. NIXON