First Lieutenant Anthony O’Reilly KIA Vietnam 1968

#OnThisDay 1968 First Lieutenant Anthony O’Reilly, born in Galway, was killed in action in Vietnam. Leading his platoon (2nd Battalion 39th Infantry 9th Infantry Division) against the Viet Cong, he singlehandedly took out a heavy weapons bunker with grenades. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously). His citation reads:

‘First Lieutenant O’Reilly distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions from 1 to 3 June 1968 as commander of an infantry company during a reconnaissance-in-force operation near the Cambodian border. A sister company was pinned down by an estimated battalion of Viet Cong firing small arms, machine guns, rockets and mortars from a well fortified bunker complex. Lieutenant O’Reilly attempted to lead his force to the beleaguered unit, but was stopped by the enemy’s barrage. Disregarding his safety, he crawled twenty-five meters toward the nearest bunker and hurled grenades into it which killed its two occupants and silenced its deadly stream of automatic weapons fire. He then sprang to his feet and rallied his men for an assault on the remaining fortifications. In fierce close combat the Viet Cong abandoned their emplacements and broke contact. During the next two days the search for the elusive foe continued, and on 3 June contact was made again. As his unit came under intense automatic weapons fire, Lieutenant O’Reilly quickly moved his troops on line and assaulted the hostile positions. While deploying his men so they could effectively engage the Viet Cong bunkers with comparative safety, he was killed by a burst of enemy automatic weapons fire. First Lieutenant O’Reilly’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.’

resized_anthony-oreilly-portrait-vietnam

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