Medal of Honor Citation

Sergeant Daniel Paul Matthews, 21, of Van Nuys, California, was posthumously awarded the Nation’s highest decoration for his single-handed attack on an enemy machine gun nest which had prevented the evacuation of a wounded comrade. He was the 41st Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Korea.

The young squad leader was killed at Vegas Hill on 28 March 1953, while fighting with Company F, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines. Assaulting an enemy outpost which had driven off six earlier attacks, he and his men were pinned down by a machine gun at the peak of the enemy position. Seeing that the gun’s murderous fire prevented the evacuation of a wounded comrade, he worked his way toward the base of the enemy emplacement, and armed only with a rifle, leaped onto the rocks around the enemy nest. Although he took the enemy by surprise with his single-handed attack, he was wounded mortally when the gun was turned on him. Notwithstanding his wounds, he killed two of the crew, drove a third to cover and completely silenced the weapon before he himself died.

The medal was presented to his parents on 29 March 1954 by Secretary of the Navy Robert B. Anderson. The Pentagon ceremony also included presentation of posthumous Medals of Honor to the families of Sgt James E. Johnson and Cpl Lee H. Phillips.

Daniel Paul Matthews and his twin brother, were born in Van Nuys, California, on 31 December 1931. He was a member of the high school track and football teams before he left school in 1948 to work as a concrete-mixer operator for C.W. Organ, a Los Angeles contractor. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on 21 February 1951, and after completing recruit training in San Diego that April, was promoted to private first class and assigned to Camp Pendleton. While serving there with the 6th Infantry Training Battalion and the 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, he was promoted to corporal in March 1952 and to sergeant in July 1952.

He sailed for Korea in January 1953, joining Company F, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, the following month. After his death, his body was escorted to the United States in May 1953, by his twin brother, who had enlisted in the Navy. Sgt Matthews was buried in Glen Haven Cemetery, San Fernando, California.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Sgt Matthews was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal for his fatal wounds. His other medals and decorations included the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with one bronze star, and the United Nations Service Medal.

Korean War Medal of Honor

Marine Corps University