Profile of Courage

“This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile…”
 William Shakesphere

On the late afternoon of March 30th, 1967, Marine 2nd Lieutenant John Paul Bobo silently led his men from the Third Marine Division through the cool darkness of the Quang Tri Province in the Republic of Vietnam. The Summer season, with its hot, sticky nights and torrential downpours had not yet arrived. Even though he was only 24 years old, by this time he was only a few months short of completing his year long tour. The young man from Niagara Falls, New York had become a combat hardened veteran whose courage and fortitude had been tested in the far off, deadly land where the torturous conflict raged. His unit had been tasked with conducting a night ambush against the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces operating in the area.  While establishing their ambush positions, they were attacked by a larger NVA force armed with heavy machine guns, automatic rifles, grenades, and mortars. 
With murderous enemy fire pouring in, deafening explosions sending razor sharp shrapnel through the air, and men on both sides screaming in agony and rage, he quickly organized the Marines into a hasty defense, moving to each pocket of men and directing their fire towards the enemy. The weapons of his platoon included hand held rockets that could inflict a devastating toll even on well dug in positions, and when that team was taken out by enemy fire, he quickly organized Marines to replace them to fire the rockets at an NVA heavy machine gun position. In the midst of a raging hurricane of violence and death, Lieutenant Bobo continued to direct his men, unleashing deadly torrents of fire and high explosives at the enemy. A high arcing NVA mortar round whistled down through the trees, impacting just a few feet from where he was standing. The resulting explosion was at once mind numbingly violent and deadly. Lieutenant Bobo's lower right leg was jaggedly blown from his body, resulting in stream of blood pulsing over a tangle of ragged bone, muscles, and tendons. An improvised tourniquet made from a web belt was applied to slow the bleeding, and Company 1stSgt Raymond Rogers directed the badly injured Lieutenant to be evacuated out of the fight. 
Regaining his senses after the shock of the wound, the young Lieutenant refused to leave the battle. Incredibly, he grabbed a shotgun, jammed the remaining charred stump of his leg into the dirt to slow the continued bleeding, and continued the fight, delivering a hail of devastating fire against the oncoming enemy trying to push through into the Marine's position. Inspired by his heroic efforts, his men continued their valiant stand, eventually turning the tide and repulsed the attack. During the fight, 1stSgt Rogers was also wounded, and an NVA soldier stood over him to deliver the final blow. Lt Bobo killed the enemy soldier and many others charging their position. At some point in the chaos, Lieutenant Bobo fell, mortally wounded. Soon after the battle, his Battalion Commander recommended him for the nation's highest award, the Medal of Honor. The recommendation for the Medal of Honor had a long journey up the chain of command and through the Department of Defense before it would eventually be signed by the President Johnson. The award was presented to his parents by Secretary of the Navy Paul Ignatius at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. in August of 1968.

         






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