UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
The Navy Cross is presented to Leon R. Burns, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in connection with operations against the enemy while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company B, First Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in the Republic of Vietnam on 2 July 1967. Company B was engaged in a search and destroy operation when it was taken under intense small-arms, automatic weapons, mortar and rocket fire from an estimated two battalions of North Vietnamese troops. In the initial burst of enemy fire, the commanding officer and two platoon commanders became casualties. Immediately reacting to the situation, Staff Sergeant Burns moved his platoon forward only to be pinned down by a heavy volume of small-arms fire from both flanks and the front. He moved through the intense fire, with complete disregard for his own safety, to call in and adjust air strikes against the numerically superior enemy force. The air strikes erupted within fifty meters of his position, disrupting an enemy assault against his flanks. Exposing himself to the intense enemy fire, he organized the remnants of the company into a hasty defense and began treating and evacuating the wounded. Upon being joined by a relief column, he unhesitatingly volunteered to go forward to guide the column and assist in recovering the wounded and dead Marines. After the fulfillment of this mission, he led his men in a withdrawal along the highway. As the column moved along the highway, they were taken under devastating enemy mortar and artillery fire. Again exhibiting fearless leadership, he moved up and down the column encouraging his men and directing them into fighting holes to organize a defense position and personally carried two wounded Marines to the landing zone. By his bold initiative, dauntless courage and exceptional fortitude, Staff Sergeant Burns reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.