SERGEANT MAJOR JOHN CANLEY
Sergeant Major (retired) John L. Canley, U.S. Marine Corps was born in Caledonia, Arkansas, on 6 April 1936. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps from Little Rock, Arkansas, on 3 December 1953. He conducted several tours in Vietnam from 1965 to 1970. Some of Sergeant Major Canley's military decorations include the Navy Cross, Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device, Navy and Marine Commendation Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon and multiple other ribbons and medals. Sergeant Major Canley retired from the United States Marine Corps October 23, 1981, after serving nearly 28 years. Sergeant Major Canley has three adult children, Ricky, Patricia and Yukari. He currently resides in Oxnard, California. Some of his interests include physical fitness, travel, reading, marksmanship and spending time with his family.
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For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy while serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant, Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division from 31 January to 6 February 1968, in the Republic of Vietnam. Company A fought off multiple vicious attacks as it rapidly moved along the highway toward Hue City to relieve friendly forces that were surrounded by enemy forces. Despite being wounded in these engagements, Gunnery Sergeant Canley repeatedly rushed across fire-swept terrain to carry his wounded Marines to safety. After his commanding officer was severely wounded, Gunnery Sergeant Canley took command and led the company into Hue City.
At Hue City, caught in deadly crossfire from enemy machine gun positions, he set up a base of fire and maneuvered with a platoon in a flanking attack that eliminated several enemy positions. Retaining command of the company for three days, he led attacks against multiple enemy fortified positions while routinely braving enemy fire to carry wounded Marines to safety.
On 4 February, he led a group of Marines into an enemy-occupied building in Hue City. He moved into the open to draw fire, located the enemy, eliminated the threat, and expanded the company’s hold on the building room by room. Gunnery Sergeant Canley then gained position above the enemy strongpoint and dropped in a large satchel charge that forced the enemy to withdraw. On 6 February, during a fierce firefight at a hospital compound, Gunnery Sergeant Canley twice scaled a wall in full view of the enemy to carry wounded Marines to safety.
By his undaunted courage, selfless sacrifice, and unwavering devotion to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Canley reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.