Truly Above & Beyond – PFC Gary W. Martini, U.S. Marine Corps (1948-1967)

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PFC Gary W. Martini, USMC, Medal of Honor, Vietnam

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.  Gary Wayne Martini was born on September 21, 1948, in Lexington, Virginia.  He ultimately moved with his family to Portland Oregon where he graduated from David Douglas High School.  It was also in Portland where he joined the Marines on March 3, 1966.

From Portland, Martini was sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, California.  After finishing his initial recruit training in May of 1966,  Martini was transferred to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.  At Camp Pendleton he participated in individual combat training with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment.


Martini completed his training at Camp Pendleton and was transferred to Camp Lejeune where he joined Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.  In September 1966 he was promoted to private first class.

Transferred to the Far East in the Republic of Vietnam in December 1966, PFC Martini received orders to report to  Company F, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division  Republic of Vietnam.  It was during Operation Union at Binh Son, Da Nang, on April 21, 1967, Martini   was mortally wounded when he went to the aid of his wounded comrades.

PFC Martini’s platoon engaged the enemy across an open rice paddy and advanced to within  20 meters of where the enemy had established a trench line.  Martini’s platoon suddenly came under intense enemy fire from small arms, grenades, automatic weapons, and mortar fire.


The initial onslaught by the enemy killed 14 Marines and wounded 18. The remaining Marines were pinned down behind a low dike.  Martini on his own initiative went over the dike and moved to within 15 meters of the enemy position. Although he was exposed to intense enemy fire he hurled hand grenades, killing several of the enemy. Moving back through the intense fire, Martini rejoined his platoon that had relocated to the relative safety of a trench line. Martini saw that many of his wounded comrades were lying totally exposed to enemy fire.


Martini had seen one of his comrades killed as he had attempted to assist the wounded.  Despite this Martini moved back out into the rice paddy and dragged a wounded Marine back to the relative safety of the dike where his platoon had taken cover.  Despite being seriously wounded during this rescue, Martini returned to aid another companion lying wounded and exposed to enemy fire. When Martini reached the wounded Marine he was mortally wounded.  In spite of his wound he began pulling the wounded Marine back to safety.  Martini saw that men from his platoon were coming over the dike to assist him.  Not wanting them to be exposed to the intense fire from the enemy he told them to return to the safety of the dike.


Martini was able through a super human effort to move his wounded comrade to safety before he died from his wounds.

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


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 Rifleman, Company F, Second Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam. On 21 April 1967, during Operation UNION, elements of Company F, conducting offensive operations at Binh Son, encountered a firmly entrenched enemy force and immediately deployed to engage them. The Marines in Private Martini’s platoon assaulted across an open rice paddy to within twenty meters of the enemy trench line where they were suddenly struck by hand grenades, intense small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire. The enemy onslaught killed 14 and wounded 18 Marines, pinning the remainder of the platoon down behind a low paddy dike. In the face of imminent danger, Private Martini immediately crawled over the dike to a forward open area within 15 meters of the enemy position where, continuously exposed to the hostile fire, he hurled hand grenades, killing several of the enemy. Crawling back through the intense fire, he rejoined his platoon which had moved to the relative safety of a trench line. From this position he observed several of his wounded comrades lying helpless in the fire swept paddy. Although he knew that one man had been killed, attempting to assist the wounded, Private Martini raced through the open area and dragged a comrade back to the friendly position. In spite of a serious wound received during this first daring rescue, he again braved the unrelenting fury of the enemy fire to aid another companion lying wounded only twenty meters in front of the enemy trench line. As he reached the fallen Marine, he received a mortal wound, but disregarding his own condition, he began to drag the Marine toward his platoon’s position. Observing men from his unit attempting to leave the security of their position to aid him, concerned only for their safety, he called to them to remain under cover and through a final supreme effort, moved his injured comrade to where he could be pulled to safety, before he fell, succumbing to his wounds. Stouthearted and indomitable, Private Martini unhesitatingly yielded his own life to save two of his comrades and insure the safety of the remainder of his platoon. His outstanding courage, valiant fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty reflected the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.



His medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Private First Class Gary Wayne Martini is buried at Rosewood Cemetery, Lewisburg West Virginia.  His grave is located at section 2, avenue I, plot 89.