John Doran Kelly MOH

b. 08/07/1928 Youngstown, Ohio. d. 28/05/1952 Korea.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 28/05/1952 Korea.

John Doran Kelly MOH

John Doran Kelly was born July 8, 1928, in Youngstown, Ohio. Soon afterwards his family moved to Homestead, Pennsylvania, where he attended grade school and high school. He graduated from high school in 1947, and was attending Arizona State College, prior to entering the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.

Kelly enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1951, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Following his initial training at Parris Island, South Carolina, he was transferred to Camp Pendleton for further training prior to being assigned to the 1st Marine Division which was part of the Eighth U.S. Army (EUSAK) in Korea. Kelly was sent to Korea and assigned as a radio operator with C Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

The 7th Marines was in division reserve after completing its redeployment from its positions in east-central Korea in March 1952 to relieve a South Korean Army division in western Korea. On May 11, the 7th Marines was moved out of reserve and replaced the 5th Marines at the front which was defending positions from enemy approaches to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. On May 26, A Company and a platoon from C Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, were given a mission to take an enemy held hill to begin early in the morning under the cover of darkness on May 28. Kelly’s Second Platoon was to be used as a diversionary force.

On May 28, A Company got near the base of Hill 104 and was counterattacked by a Chinese platoon size force. One of A Company’s platoon’s made it to the top and the fighting ended. Kelly’s platoon which was used as a diversionary force in support of A Company experienced hand-to-hand fighting and was pinned down by heavy enemy fire as it advanced towards its objective. Kelly left his radio to another Marine to attack key enemy machine gun positions, destroying two in the process. Although he had been wounded in the charge on the first machine gun crew, he made another one-man assault to destroy a third enemy machine gun emplacement. he was killed as he took out the enemy position. “A” Company took control of the hill, but due to many casualties, both Marine units were called back to friendly lines. Pfc. Kelly of C Company and Cpl. David B. Champagne of A Company were both awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for their actions that day.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio operator of Company C, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his platoon pinned down by a numerically superior enemy force employing intense mortar, artillery, small-arms, and grenade fire, Pfc. Kelly requested permission to leave his radio in the care of another man and to participate in an assault on enemy key positions. Fearlessly charging forward in the face of a murderous hail of machine-gun fire and hand grenades, he initiated a daring attack against a hostile strongpoint and personally neutralized the position, killing two of the enemy. Unyielding in the face of heavy odds, he continued forward and singlehandedly assaulted a machine-gun bunker. Although painfully wounded, he bravely charged the bunker and destroyed it, killing three of the enemy. Courageously continuing his one-man assault, he again stormed forward in a valiant attempt to wipe out a third bunker and boldly delivered point-blank fire into the aperture of the hostile emplacement. Mortally wounded by enemy fire while carrying out this heroic action, Pfc. Kelly, by his great personal valor and aggressive fighting spirit, inspired his comrades to sweep on, overrun and secure the objective. His extraordinary heroism in the face of almost certain death reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.