'He was always leading': Vietnam veteran receives Medal of Honor

Canley a Marine served in the Vietnam War

Canley is being honored for his service during the Vietnam War in 1968, when he, according the Marines, repeatedly rushed across unsafe terrain to carry his wounded comrades to safety, despite bearing wounds of his own.

During the conflict, Canley - then a gunnery sergeant - helped carry injured Marines to safety despite his own injuries.

"John raced straight into enemy fire over and over again, saving numerous American lives and defeating a large group of enemy fighters", Trump said.

"I like courageous people, and we meet them right here", he said. Canley, a retired marine, is being honored for his service during the Vietnam War.

Through his "unrelenting combat", Trump said, Canley "saved the lives of more than 20 Marines".

That set in motion a multi-year process with the Marine Corps and the Defense Department that ultimately required the House of Representatives to pass legislation to waive the five-year time limit on awarding the Medal of Honor on Canley's behalf. "There are very, very few people like you, John".

Eyewitnesses saw him pull at least 10 wounded Marines to safety, charge a machine gun that had them pinned down and deliberately expose himself to fire in order to pinpoint enemy locations.

Corps retired Sgt. Maj. John Canley left and a local citizen pose for
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

"He was always leading and attacking the enemy and always standing up and encouraging us", Fraleigh said. John Ligato, one of Canley's Marines and a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who led the fight to see the medal upgraded.

"John, it is because of your extraordinary personality and being and whatever it takes that really do something really special for our country", Trump said.

"Their bravery and sacrifice is unparalleled", Canley said.

"In one harrowing engagement after another John risked his own life to save the lives of those under his command", said Trump.

He has received a number of other personal awards, including a Bronze Star with combat "V", Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat "V", and the Combat Action Ribbon.

After a review lasting almost four years, Defense Secretary James Mattis agreed that Canley's heroism merited the Medal of Honor. The bill passed in January with bipartisan support. "As we all know we've been in hyperpartisan times, but we all came together, leadership on both sides of the aisle, hopefully, because of our patriotism, but motivated by Sgt".

Several soldiers who served under Canley's command were present for the ceremony, witnesses to the heroism of his actions. He enlisted in Little Rock and served in the Marine Corps until 1980. "All I can say is keep it up, I think it'll pay dividends".

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