John McGinty – Medal of Honor, Vietnam

The VA News has a page called “Veteran of the Day.” Yesterday’s presentation covered the life of United States Marine Corps Capt. John McGinty, and I thought that doing his story would be appropriate for the celebration of National Medal of Honor Day, which is March 25th.

When John McGinty enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1957, his intention was to enlist for a six-month reserve position. He went to boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC, and after graduating from boot camp, he was assigned to 7th Infantry Company USMCR, Louisville, KY, in September of 1957, where he served as a rifleman.

Photo: United States Marine Corps/Sgt. Kristin S. Jochums

In March of 1958, as a Private, McGinty changed his enlistment status from reserve to active duty and entered Noncommissioned Officers Leadership School at Camp Pendleton, CA, in May of 1958. After graduation from NCOLS, he received orders to Marine Barracks, U.S. Naval Station, Kodiak, AK, until May of 1959. He was promoted to Corporal at USNS Kodiak. He was transferred then to the 1st Marine Division in June as a rifleman leader and later as a squad leader with I Co. 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. He would then return to Norfolk, VA, to serve as a Guard/Company Police Sgt. with H&S Bn, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Atlantic, until March of 1962. He then returned to MCRD Parris Island, SC, where he served as a Drill Instructor for the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion and was promoted to Sergeant in August of 1962. From November 1964 to December 1965, he was Assistant Brig. Warden, Marine Barracks, U.S. Naval Base, Norfolk, VA.

In April of 1966, he received orders to FMF Pacific with the 4th Marines, 3rd Mar. Div. in Vietnam. He would serve successively as a platoon sergeant and then platoon commander, and later as K Co., 3rd Bn. as S-2 Officer and Operations Chief, with Headquarters Co., 4th Marines. It would be during Operation Hastings that same year, while he was serving as a platoon commander, that McGinty and his platoon would be caught up in a three-day-long battle with the enemy.

Photo: Wikipedia/United States Marine Corps

On July 18, 1966, McGinty’s platoon was attacked by a large enemy force. Over the next three days, they would endure a relentless attack with mortars and heavy machine guns. A Marine platoon is generally somewhere around 45 men. During this battle, 20 of McGinty’s men, including himself, were either wounded or killed in action. Despite being wounded, McGinty led his remaining men in a counterattack, directing air and artillery support while engaging the enemy at point-blank range. The counterattack was successful.

After Vietnam, McGinty returned to the United States in 1967 and was again stationed at MCRD Parris Island, SC, as a Drill Instructor and later as the Series Officer of 1st Recruit Bn. It was at this time that he received a promotion to 2nd Lieutenant as a result of his demonstrated leadership skills both on the battlefield and in his other assignments over the years.

Photo: Wikipedia/United States Marine Corps

Lt. McGinty was presented with the Medal of Honor for his heroism on that day in July of 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson in a White House ceremony on March 12, 1968. He was Honorably Discharged in 1976 after a 20-year career, having attained the rank of Captain. Captain John McGinty clearly had a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps. He entered as a regular recruit and rose to the rank of Captain. His leadership and his dedication to duty, to his men, to the Corps, and to the country is a model for all of us.

Capt. McGinty died in Beaufort, SC, in January of 2014 at age 74. He is buried in the Beaufort National Cemetery. Over his career, he would be awarded the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (MCGCM) with 2 bronze stars, the Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon (CAR), the Navy/Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation (PUC), the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 2 bronze stars, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Bravo Zulu, Captain John McGinty! Semper Fidelis!

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