Medal of Honor Citation

Lance Corporal Joe C. Paul, a 19 year-old Marine who lost his life after diverting an attack long enough to allow the evacuation of wounded buddies during Operation Starlight near Chu Lai, Vietnam, on 18 August 1965, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously on 7 February 1967. He was honored in ceremonies in the Office of Secretary of the Navy, Paul H. Nitze, who presented the award to his parents.

Joe Calvin Paul was born 23 April 1946, in Williamsburg, Kentucky. He graduated from grammar school and attended high school for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on 26 April 1963, shortly after his seventeenth birthday.

In August 1963, after completing recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton, California, where he underwent individual combat training with the Second Infantry Training Regiment, graduating in October 1963.

He then joined Company H, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Brigade, in Hawaii where he was promoted to private first class in December 1963 and to lance corporal in October 1964. With that unit, he sailed for the Far East, arriving in Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam on 7 May 1965 where this unit was redesignated Company H, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division.

On 18 August 1965, while serving as a fire team leader with Company H, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, LCpl Paul placed himself between his wounded comrades and the enemy and delivered effective suppressive fire in order to divert the Viet Cong long enough to allow the casualties to be evacuated. He fought in this exposed position until he was mortally wounded. He succumbed to his wounds the next day, 19 August 1965.

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.

Vietnam War Medal of Honor

Marine Corps University