Samuel L. Felton, Jr., Navy Cross Recipient

The man you are about to meet in this video is a philosopher of sorts. Not the kind of philosopher that inhabits the ivy-towered halls of academia but a wise man in the traditional sense, an elder, one whose wisdom has come from his interior reflections on the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences of his own life, one who has come away from it with his natural nobility intact.

Samuel L. Felton, Jr., was a Pvt. 1st Class serving with Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, only a short seven months after entering the Marines in 1968. When asked in this video why he chose the Marines, he responds with a simple answer, “Because they were the toughest.” He would learn very quickly what that meant for his own life.

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While on a mission with C Co. 1/5 on June 11, 1969, near An Hoa, the unit came under attack by a force of some 100 Viet Cong soldiers. The unit had a three-man listening post set up about 75 meters out forward of the perimeter. Shortly after the battle began, they lost communication with the three men out in the listening post.

Felton was able to establish voice contact with them and realized that all three were wounded and unable to return to the perimeter. Though already wounded himself, Felton could not leave his comrades out there alone and wounded. He left his fighting hole to get out to his three friends.

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Felton ran forward over the 75 meters of rice paddy to get to his fallen brothers. He provided some first aid to the three men whose names and specific wounds he still remembered at the time of this interview decades later. He then made sure that no equipment or ordinance was left behind to be found and used by the enemy and began moving back to the C Co. lines, providing covering fire with his M-16 as they went.

Two of the C Co. Marines could still manage walking, but the third needed to be carried. They had to move back through the knee-deep mud of the rice paddy to get back to their perimeter, and the going was slow.

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As they were headed back, suddenly two VC jumped up between Felton and his small group and the C Company perimeter. As Felton went to put the wounded man he was carrying down, he was hit again, in the shoulder, by a round from one of the VC, and while still holding his brother with his wounded arm, he lifted his M-16 with his other hand and opened fire on the two VC, killing both of them.

Even though he was weakened by blood loss from his own wounds, Felton was able to get the three men back to the C Company perimeter and to the battalion aid station for further medical aid with the Corpsman of the company there. He then went back to the lines to continue the fight against the VC attackers until they finally repelled the attack and the VC left the field.

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For his actions that day, Pfc. Samuel L. Felton, Jr., was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest award for valor on the field of battle.

Samuel L. Felton, Jr., died at the age of 70 in Lorain, OH, his hometown, on May 2, 2020. Throughout his life, he continued to serve fellow veterans as a commander of the Lorain Chapter 20 of the Disabled American Veterans Organization, as the chairman of the Valor Home Board, as a delegate to the Lorain Veterans Council, and as a member of the First Marine Division Association. He was also a member of the National Association of Black Veterans and Ohio chairman of the Advisory Committee of Valor Home, a nonprofit organization providing services for homeless veterans and many other organizations serving veterans.

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Samuel Felton Jr. was a man for others in every sense of the word and was so throughout his life. The Veterans Site sends its condolences to his family. We honor the valor and the service and the wisdom that Mr. Felton brought to all he served, both in the Marine Corps and throughout the Ohio veterans communities over the course of his life. You lived an exemplary and honorable life, Marine. Semper Fi! Oorah!

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