The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the
SILVER STAR MEDAL to
1stLt JOHN A. KELLY
United States Marine Corps
For service as set forth in the following
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to First Lieutenant John Albert Kelly, United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company I, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, during Operation STARLITE in the Republic of Vietnam on 18 August 1965. As the Weapons Platoon Commander of Company I, First Lieutenant Kelly took command of the company when his company commander was killed in action during an attack against the fortified position of insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces. Though the company had received heavy casualties, he immediately took charge until such time as the executive officer could be summoned, effected a rapid reorganization, and continued the attack to seize the company's objective. Later the same day, while serving as the company Executive Officer, Lieutenant Kelly immediately and upon his own initiative, when the company had suffered heavy casualties from enemy mortar fire, assisted in reorganizing the company and personally took charge of the evacuation of the dead and wounded. The evacuation continued until all casualties had been removed; stopping only once when Lieutenant Kelly had to utilize all available personnel, including the wounded to repel an attack by an enemy squad against the landing zone. After the casualties had been evacuated, he policed the battlefield of all weapons and equipment to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. During the night of 18 August 1965, Lieutenant Kelly, separated from the main body of the company, formed Marines from three separate units into a composite fighting force for the purpose of night security and the safeguarding of equipment. Lieutenant Kelly's actions throughout were characterized by uncommon composure and determination although under continued enemy small arms fire and sporadic mortar fire. His heroic actions directly contributed to his company's success as a fighting force, the infliction of heavy casualties upon the enemy, the survival of numerous wounded Marines and the denial to the enemy of many thousands of dollars worth of military equipment. By his courageous actions, inspiring leadership and loyal devotion to duty in the face of grave personal risk, Lieutenant Kelly upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.