This blog is for Communication among Marines and people interested in the Marines. The 10 is for Communications. The Photo above is Marble Mountain, Danang, Vietnam.

Mar 10, 2011

Silver Star

Vet earns Silver Star after 42 year wait

Former Petty Officer 2nd Class Dennis L. Noah speaks after receiving the Silver Star with Valor for his service in the Vietnam War during a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on Wednesday.

Published: April 11, 2010

A former Navy Petty Officer was awarded the Silver Star with Valor device on Wednesday, more than four decades after his heroic actions on a battlefield in Vietnam.

Marine Commandant Gen. James T. Conway, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent and other dignitaries attended the ceremony that honored Dennis L. Noah at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle.

“My time with the Marine Corps, it was the most important thing I did in my life,” said Noah. “I did what I was trained to do. You basically react. We were highly trained. We had a tremendous company commander in Col. [Gene] Bowers, Capt. Bowers, at the time.”

Noah was serving as the senior corpsman of Company H, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division during Operation Swift when the platoon came under heavy close range small arms, machine gun, and mortar fire from a numerically superior enemy and was temporarily pinned down on the night of Sept. 10, 1967.

“Without hesitation, Petty Officer Noah, with total disregard for his life, crawled among the dead and wounded Marines on the field of fire to render aid to many severely wounded Marines within 10 meters of the entrenched enemy,” Noah’s Silver Star citation reads.

Bowers, who traveled from his home in Tallahassee, Fla., to attend the ceremony, said that during the battle Noah also prioritized how the wounded were treated.

“He was 20 years old,” said Bowers. “I paid attention to him. He was trained in triage.”

Although he was wounded during the battle, Noah repeatedly crawled from one wounded Marine to another, administering medical aid while shielding each Marine from enemy fire with his own body. He remained in an exposed position for more than four hours, “dragging bodies of dead Marines in front of the wounded to give them cover,” the citation continues.

After he had used all of his medical supplies, Noah packed open wounds and fashioned tourniquets with pieces of utility uniforms.

“When one enemy soldier crawled forward and attempted to capture a wounded Marine, Petty Officer Noah shot him in the face at close range,” reads the citation.

When the rest of Company H arrived to engage the enemy, and while still under direct enemy fire and within 40 meters of impacting friendly fire, Noah and others evacuated all the wounded Marines to relative safety.

When Bowers had a chance to talk with Noah after the battle, he said he found his ‘Doc’ covered in blood.

“I didn’t know he was wounded. I asked him what went on out there. He did not elaborate. He did not tell me what he had done. All but one of the officers and most of the senior Marines were dead or wounded and evacuated on the helicopter, so I had no witnesses.”

The lack of witnesses was the major hurdle that kept Noah from being awarded the Silver Star for more than 40 years. About three years ago, the daughter of the battalion surgeon began collecting information for a book she is writing about the men’s time in Vietnam. She heard the story of Noah’s heroism from three different men and the information was enough for Bowers to request that Noah be awarded the Silver Star.

“As a corpsman, your attachment to your Marines is probably only second to your attachment to family,” Noah said. “It’s something I can’t explain.”

Pointing to a group of corpsmen from Quantico Naval Medical Clinic, Noah said, “These are our current heroes who are protecting all of us older folks. I hope the legacy of the Vietnam War is we know how to treat our troops and never treat troops like they treated us when we came back. Every time you see someone in uniform tell them thank you.”

Noah’s voice broke as he said he was humbled to receive the Silver Star.

“I accept this not just for myself, but for the guys I could not save,” he said. “We lost a lot of good Marines and I still remember them and hold them dear and hope God keeps them close. All I can say is Semper Fi.”

Military editor Julia LeDoux can be reached at 703-369-5718.

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