Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam vet


President Trump on Wednesday awarded the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam veteran credited with saving numerous lives during a fierce battle in the Tet Offensive 50 years ago.

Retired Sgt. Major John Canley was honored in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, where Trump praised his bravery and focus during the 1968 Battle of Hue, and credited him with saving 20 Marines.

"In one harrowing engagement after another, John risked his own life to save the lives of those under his command," Trump said.

Canley, then a gunnery sergeant in the Marines, took control of his unit when its commander was severely wounded.

He led his fellow Marines for six days as it advanced into Hue during one of the bloodiest battles of the war, engaging in "vicious" combat, Trump said. Canley carried other Marines to safety despite being wounded, and twice scaled a wall in full view of the enemy in order to rescue fellow soldiers.

Trump recognized a group of roughly 30 other service members who fought in the battle of Hue City who attended Wednesday’s ceremony.

"You make us all very proud," Trump said.

Recognition for Canley’s actions came 50 years after they took place. The Medal of Honor requires that recipients be honored within five years of their act of valor, meaning the Department of Defense and Congress had to waive the statute of limitations for Canley to be recognized.

Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), who represents the district Canley calls home, said in an interview that several men who served with Canley in Vietnam brought his case to her office in 2014.

Her office secured testimonials and eyewitness descriptions of Canley’s actions, and presented those to the Department of Defense. The department determined in 2017 that Canley merited the award.

Brownley then crafted a bill to waive the statute of limitations in Canley’s case, and the legislation was signed into law earlier this year.

"I think we were quite pleased that we were — certainly in these sort of hyper-partisan times  — we came together and really quickly passed a bill, and I think it was mainly Sgt. Major Canley and his heroism that really brought Congress together," Brownley said.

The congresswoman, who hosted Canley at this year's State of the Union and attended Wednesday’s ceremony, called it an "overdue but important recognition," and praised the retired Marine for his humility.

"If you read through all of these testimonials, which I have done, the men in his company just respected him so very, very much," Brownley said. "He led by example."

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