b. 15/01/1949 Nacogdoches, Texas. d. 23/02/1969 Da Nang, Vietnam.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 23/02/1969 Da Nang, Vietnam.
Oscar Palmer Austin was born on January 15, 1949, in Nacogdoches, Texas. He attended Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, and Phoenix Union High School.
Austin joined the United States Marine Corps in Phoenix, Arizona April 22, 1968 and completed recruit training with the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, in July 1968. He completed his individual combat training with Company T, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, in August 1968; and basic infantry training with Weapons Company, Basic Infantry Training Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton, in September.
Promoted to Private First Class on October 1, 1968, he was transferred later that month to South Vietnam where he served as ammunitions man with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. While participating in combat 6 ½ miles west of Da Nang on February 23, 1969, he was killed in action and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. On 20 April 1970 at the White House, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew presented the Medal of Honor to Oscar Palmer Austin’s family. In 2o00, a newly commissioned missile destroyer named USS Oscar Austin, was launched in his honour.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Assistant Machine Gunner with Company E, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in connection with operations against enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam. During the early morning hours of February 23, 1969, Private First Class Austin’s observation post was subjected to a fierce ground attack by a large North Vietnamese Army force supported by a heavy volume of hand grenades, satchel charges and small arms fire. Observing that one of his wounded companions had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to the hostile fire, Private First Class Austin unhesitatingly left the relative security of his fighting hole and, with complete disregard for his own safety, raced across the fire-swept terrain to assist the Marine to a covered location. As he neared the casualty, he observed an enemy grenade land nearby and, reacting instantly, leaped between the injured Marine and the lethal object, absorbing the effect of its detonation. As he ignored his painful injuries and turned to examine the wounded man, he saw a North Vietnamese Army soldier aiming a weapon at his unconscious companion. With full knowledge of the probable consequences and thinking only to protect the Marine, Private First Class Austin resolutely threw himself between the casualty and the hostile soldier and, in so doing, was mortally wounded.
BURIAL LOCATION: GREENWOOD MEMORY LAWN CEMETERY, PHOENIX, ARIZONA.
SECTION 44 BLOCK 42 LOT 2 SPACE 11.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.