Colonel Jay R. Vargas



Medal of Honor Citation

Colonel Jay R. Vargas, the son of a Hispanic father and an Italian mother, who came to the United States in late 1917, retired July 1992 after more than 30 years service in the Marine Corps. He is one of four sons that has served in the United States Armed Forces in time of war (Angelo-Iwo Jima, WWII; Frank-Okinawa, WWII; Joseph-Korea; and Jay-Vietnam). Like Col Vargas each of his brothers are decorated veterans of war.

He was born 29 July 1938 in Winslow, Arizona, and attended high school there, where he was a standout athlete, achieving All-State recognition in two sports. Attending Arizona State on an academic and athletic scholarship, he graduated in 1962 with a B.S. Degree in Education. He completed his Master of Arts Degree with “Honors” at the U.S. International University, San Diego, California.

After completing The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, in June 1963, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He is also a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, the Command and Staff College, Quantico, Virginia, and the National War College, Washington, D.C.

Colonel Vargas has served successfully as a Weapons and Rifle Platoon Commander; Rifle Company Executive Officer; three times as a Rifle Company Commander (two of which were in combat); S-3 Operations Officer; Recruit Depot Series Commander; Instructor, Staff Planning School, LFTCPAC; Headquarters Company Commander, 3d Marine Division; Commanding Officer and Executive Officer, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division; Aide-de-Camp to the Deputy Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; Marine Officer Instructor, NROTC Unit, University of New Mexico; Head, Operations Branch, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington D.C.; and as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, 1st Marine Amphibious Force.

His decorations include: the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart w/four Gold Stars, the Combat Action ribbon, Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal w/four Bronze Stars, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross w/Silver Star and Palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Colonel Vargas is one of a few recipients in the United States to be awarded the American Academy of Achievement’s “Golden Plate Award” presented to national leaders in all professional fields.

He has also received the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Commemorative Plaque presented by the United States Collegiate Athletic Directors and Coaches, in Houston, Texas, for excelling in collegiate athletics and having made a significant contribution to his country.

Vietnam War 1965-1973 Medal of Honor

Marine Corps University