The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the
SILVER STAR MEDAL to
LtCol EARL R. DELONG
United States Marine Corps
For service as set forth in the following
" The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel Earl R. DeLong, United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 9 May 1967, while Lieutenant Colonel DeLong was directing search and clear operations west of Hill 881 in the vicinity of Khe Sanh, Company F of his battalion became heavily engaged with a North Vietnamese Army force of undetermined size and sustained numerous casualties. Displaying exceptional military proficiency and sound judgment, he immediately diverted Company E of his battalion to flank the enemy positions in support of the beleaguered company. Simultaneously, he directed the helilift of his Command Group, along with 81-mm. mortars, 106-mm. recoilless rifles and a reinforced rifle platoon, to a position from which he could observe developments and coordinate supporting fires. At his forward observation post, Lieutenant Colonel DeLong fearlessly exposed himself to intense enemy fire to observe and supervise the movement of his ground forces and coordinate air strikes and supporting arms fire against the enemy. While he was busily engaged with his two companies' activities, his Command Post came under heavy enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire from unsuspected enemy positions to the west. Reacting instantly and proficiently, Lieutenant Colonel DeLong, employing a reinforced squad and directing supporting arms fire against this new threat to his forces, succeeded in routing the North Vietnamese from their positions. Under his dynamic leadership, his units turned the tide of the battle, killing fourteen enemy soldiers and forcing the remainder to flee in panic and confusion. With darkness approaching and weather rapidly deteriorating, Lieutenant Colonel DeLong coordinated the evacuation of his casualties and directed the withdrawal of his ground forces to the battalion's rear position. Realizing the hazards involved in helilift operations under adverse weather conditions, he consolidated his Command Post into a defensive position and daringly remained in the hostile forward area overnight rather than endanger the extraction helicopters. His bold initiative and skillful military tactics inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in the defeat of the aggressive enemy force. By his resolute determination, fearless courage and selfless devotion to duty at great personal risk, Lieutenant Colonel DeLong upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service."