BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. – For me this is a real home town hero. Daniel Bruce was born in Michigan City, Indiana, my home town. Although I am three years older than Bruce it was a small town, and I have no doubt our paths would have passed.
Bruce was born on May 18, 1950. He went to Elston Sr. High School where he met his future wife Carey.
Bruce joined the Marine Corps in July 1968. After completing his recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, he was sent to Marine Corps Base Camp in Pendleton, California.
In January of 1969, Bruce was promoted to private first class and received orders for Vietnam. Arriving in Vietnam in late January 1969, he was assigned as an anti-tank assault man with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division.
Bruce had been in country less than two months when he was killed in action at Fire Support Base Tomahawk, Quang Nam Province, on March 1, 1969. He was on night watch when an enemy satchel charge was thrown at his position. Not being one to run from danger, he caught the satchel charge and pulled it into his body. Wanting to protect his fellow Marines, he ran from his position trying to put some distance between the satchel and his fellow Marines, who would have undoubtedly been killed had it gone off near them. When the satchel exploded seconds later, Bruce was killed instantly. PFC Bruce put meaning to the saying “Greater love hath no man than to give his life for another.” He was 18 years old.
On March 2, 1969, the day after Bruce sacrificed his life for his fellow Marines, his wife gave birth to a daughter. She had no idea that she would never be able to introduce her daughter to her father. It wasn’t until March 7, 1969, that Major Kindt would travel from the South Bend Marine Reserve Center to tell Carol about the death of her husband.
On March 18, 1969, PFC Daniel D. Bruce was put in his final resting place at Greenwood Cemetery in Michigan City, Indiana.
Medal of Honor citation
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS DANIEL D. BRUCE
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 a Mortar Man with Headquarters and Service Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. Early on the morning of March 1, 1969, Private First Class Bruce was on watch in his night defensive position at Fire Support Base Tomahawk in Quang Nam Province when he heard movements ahead of him. An enemy explosive charge was thrown toward his position and he reacted instantly, catching the device and shouting to alert his companions. Realizing the danger to the adjacent position with its two occupants Private First Class Bruce Held the device to his body and attempted to carry it from the vicinity of the entrenched Marines. As he moved away, Private First Class Bruce’s indomitable courage, inspiring valor and selfless devotion to duty saved the lives of three of his fellow Marines and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star