The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
Sergeant Richard A. Pittman
United States Marine Corps
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a member of the First Platoon, Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, during combat operations near the Demilitarized Zone, Republic of Vietnam. On 24 July 1966, while Company I was conducting an operation along the axis of a narrow jungle trail, the leading company elements suffered numerous casualties when they suddenly came under heavy fire from a well concealed and numerically superior enemy force. Hearing the engaged Marine's calls for more firepower, Sergeant (then Lance Corporal) Pittman quickly exchanged his his rifle for a machine gun and several belts of ammunition, left the relative safety of his platoon, and unhesitatingly rushed forward to aid his comrades. Taken under intense enemy small-arms fire at point blank range during his advance, he returned the fire, silencing the enemy positions. As Sergeant Pittman continued to forge forward to aid members of the leading platoon, he again came under heavy fire from two automatic weapons which he promptly destroyed. Learning that there were additional wounded Marines fifty yards further along the trail, he braved a withering hail of enemy mortar and small-arms fire to continue onward. As he reached the position where the leading Marines had fallen, he was suddenly confronted with a bold frontal attack by 30 to 40 enemy. Totally disregarding his own safety, he calmly established a position in the middle of the trail and raked the advancing enemy with devastating machine-gun fire. His weapon rendered ineffective, he picked up a submachine and, together with a pistol seized from a fallen comrade, continued his lethal fire until the enemy force had withdrawn. Having exhausted his ammunition except for a grenade which he hurled at the enemy, he then rejoined his own platoon. Sergeant Pittman's daring initiative, bold fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty inflicted many enemy casualties, disrupted the enemy attack and saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades. His personal valor at grave risk to himself reflects the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Lyndon B. Johnson
President of the United States
Master Sergeant Richard Allan Pittman, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam in July 1966, was born 26 May 1945 in San Joaquin, California. He attended Hazieton Elementary School, Fremont Junior High School, and graduated from Franklin High School, Stockton, California, in June 1964.
Enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at Stockton, 27 September 1965, he was discharged 31 October to enlist in the Regular Marine Corps 1 November 1965.
After recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, in December 1965, he went on to individual combat training with the 1st Battalion, 2d Infantry Training Regiment, Marne Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, graduating in February 1966. Upon graduation, he was promoted to private first class.
Transferred to the Far East in the Republic of Vietnam, he joined Company I, Battalion Landing Team 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division and served as a rifleman with this unit until May 1966. He then became a rifleman and squad leader with Company I, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, serving in this capacity until February 1967. He was promoted to lance corporal 1 July 1966, and received a meritorious promotion to corporal 12 November 1966.
Corporal Pittman next saw duty as section leader and motor vehicle operator with Transport Company, 7th Motor Transport Battalion, 1st Marine Division (redesignated Transport Company, 7th Motor Transport Battalion, Force Logistics Command).
While serving in Vietnam, he participated in numerous combat operations including Operation Deckhouse 1 and Joint Operation Nathan Hale with Army, Navy, and Air Force, at Song Cau District; Operation Deckhouse 2 and Operation Hastings at Quang Tri Province; Operation Colorado and Operation Napa at Tam-Ky Province; Operation DeSoto near Quang Ngai; and in action against enemy forces at Da Nang.
Upon his return to the United States, he served his last tour of duty as a postal clerk with Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, 5th Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California. While stationed at Camp Pendleton, he was promoted to sergeant 1 December 1967. He was discharged from active duty 5 April 1968.
A complete list of his medals and decorations includes: the Medal of Honor, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
In 1970, he reenlisted in the Marine Corps and was promoted to Master Sergeant during his 21-year career. He retired in November 1988 and resides in Stockton, California.
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