Medal of Honor Citation

Sergeant Robert E. O’Malley was the first Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor, the Nation’s highest decoration, for conspicuous gallantry in combat as a corporal in Vietnam on 18 August 1965. He was decorated by President Johnson at a White House ceremony on 6 December 1966.

Robert Emmett O’Malley was born 3 June 1943, in New York, New York. He attended high school there, and worked as a newspaper carrier for the Star Journal. Enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on 11 October 1961, he completed basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.

Transferred to Camp Pendleton, California, he served with the 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was promoted to private first class in May 1962.

The following year, he arrived on Okinawa as a member of the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division. While there, he was promoted to lance corporal in March 1963, and to corporal in November 1963. He returned to Camp Pendleton in 1964 as a member of the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. In October 1964, he was awarded a Good Conduct Medal upon completing three years of satisfactory service in the Marine Corps.

Corporal O’Malley was transferred overseas again in 1965 and took part in combat in Vietnam while assigned to Company I, 3d Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division. He was promoted to sergeant in December 1965.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, he holds the Purple Heart, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Vietnam Service Medal.

Vietnam War 1965-1973 Medal of Honor

Marine Corps University