There was a very special man, a Medal Of
Honor winner, who deserves a page all his own. Every American who survived
the battle on Nong Son on July 4th, 1967 was given his chance
to survive by PFC Melvin Newlin.
He provided us the time we needed. If the
NVA and VC would have been able to concentrate on the few of us that
survived the first assault, we’d have all been killed; and they would have
taken or distorted every piece of equipment.
Instead, they were so busy with Newlin
that they had little time for anything else. I was in the midst of a full
company of Vietnamese, over two hundred of them. I could move among them,
and take them on one at a time because they were concentrating on him.
Like most of the rest of us he was wounded
when the battle started. The medic (Navy Corpsman) estimated that he was
hit nearly twenty times before he finally fell. He fired so many rounds so
fast that his machine gun jammed when it overheated.
He was defenseless, and wounded several
more times as he changed the barrel. With a new one in place he opened
fire again, pinning down and killing enemy troops who had captured the top
of the hill.
He gave his life for me and every other
guy on the hill that night. I owe him everything, and didn’t even know
PFC Melvin Newlin
Medal of Honor, 1967,
United States Marines, 2/5/1 Viet Nam
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity
at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as
a machine gunner attached to the First Platoon, Company F, Second
Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in the Republic of
Vietnam on 3 and 4 July 1967. Private Newlin with four other Marines was
manning a key position on the perimeter of the Nong Son outpost when the
enemy launched a savage and well coordinated mortar and infantry assault,
seriously wounding him and killing his four comrades. Propping himself
against his machine gun, he poured a deadly accurate stream of fire into
the charging ranks of the Viet Cong. Though repeatedly hit by small arms
fire, he twice repelled enemy attempts to overrun his position. During the
third attempt a grenade explosion wounded him again and knocked him to
the ground unconscious. The Viet Cong guerrillas, believing him dead,
bypassed him and continued their assault on the main force. Meanwhile
Private Newlin regained consciousness, crawled back to his weapon, and
brought it to bear on the rear of the enemy causing havoc and confusion
among them. Spotting the enemy attempting to bring a captured 106
recoilless weapon to bear on other marine positions, he shifted his fire,
inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy and preventing them from firing
the captured weapon. He then shifted his fire back to the primary enemy
force, causing the enemy to stop their assault on the Marine bunkers and
to once again attack his machine gun position. Valiantly fighting off two
more enemy assaults, he firmly held his ground until mortally wounded.
Private Newlin had single-handedly broken up and disorganized the entire
enemy assault force, causing them to lose momentum and delaying them long
enough for his fellow Marines to organize a defense and beat off their
secondary attack. His indomitable courage, fortitude, and unwavering
devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death reflected great
credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions
of the United States Naval Service.
An Hoe / Nong Son