Raw Courage

John J. McGinty III
John J. McGinty III

Born in Boston, Massachusetts on 21 January 1940, John J. McGinty III was raised in Louisville, Kentucky where he enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve in February 1957.  Following his initial training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, McGinty received advanced infantry training at the 1st Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and subsequently served with the 7th Infantry Company in Louisville until March 1958.

PFC McGinty reenlisted into the regular Marine Corps in March 1958 and was ordered to Camp Pendleton, California where he attended the NCO Leadership Course and was subsequently ordered to duty at Marine Barracks, Kodiak, Alaska until May 1959.  While stationed in Alaska, he was promoted to corporal.

In late 1959, then Corporal McGinty transferred to the 1st Marine Division, where he served as a squad leader in Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  McGinty was subsequently promoted to sergeant and ordered to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina where he served as a drill instructor until 1964.  Between 1964 and 1965, he served as a brig warden at Marine Barracks, Norfolk, Virginia.

In 1965, Sergeant McGinty was ordered to the West Coast for pre-deployment training and assignment to the Far East with the 3rd Marine division.  Arriving in Vietnam in April 1966, McGinty was further assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines where he served first as a platoon sergeant, and then later as a platoon commander.

Medal of Honor“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Acting Platoon Leader, First Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on 18 July 1966.  Second Lieutenant (then Staff Sergeant) McGinty’s platoon, which was providing rear security to protect the withdrawal of the battalion from a position, which had been under attack for three days, came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire from an estimated enemy regiment.  With each successive human wave, which assaulted his thirty-two-man platoon during the four- hour battle, Second Lieutenant McGinty rallied his men to beat off the enemy. In one bitter assault, two of the squads became separated from the remainder of the platoon.  With complete disregard for his safety, (then) Staff Sergeant McGinty charged through intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to their position. Finding twenty men wounded and the medical corpsmen killed, he quickly reloaded ammunition magazines and weapons for the wounded men and directed their fire upon the enemy.  Although he was painfully wounded as he moved to care for the disabled men, he continued to shout encouragement to his troops and to direct their fire so effectively that the attacking hordes were beaten off.  When the enemy tried to out flank his position, he killed five of them at point-blank range with his pistol.  When they again seemed on the verge of overrunning the small force, he skillfully adjusted artillery and air strikes within fifty yards of his position.  This destructive firepower routed the enemy, who left an estimated 500 bodies on the battlefield.  Staff Sergeant McGinty’s personal heroism, indomitable leadership, selfless devotion to duty, and bold fighting spirit inspired his men to resist the repeated attacks by a fanatical enemy, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”

Following this action, McGinty was subsequently assigned to the 3rd Battalion headquarters where he served as the Operations NCO, and then later he served as the Regimental Intelligence Officer, 4th Marine Regiment.  Upon his return to the United States in 1967, Staff Sergeant McGinty served a second tour of duty at MCRD Parris Island until commissioned to Second Lieutenant on 8 August 1967.  Captain John J. McGinty retired from active duty in October 1978.  He passed away at his home in Beaufort, South Carolina on 17 January 2014.

Semper Fidelis — Esse apud Deum

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Retired Marine, historian, writer.

13 thoughts on “Raw Courage”

  1. The scarlet and gold spirit was proud to be within him. Very typical of the news media to flood the internet with the childish antics of a 21 year old punk ass singer and say very little about this Marine’s passing. Hideous.

    Thank you, Mustang, for blogging this memorial. I hope he has found peace.


    1. I don’t remember Ever hearing of the passing of a warrior, let alone a MOH recipient from any news outlet.


    2. I would never correct you Sir. And fwiw, I’m talking about National media as I have seen such mentions on local media.


    3. But you are right on all counts. Locally, conservative newspapers DO report on military passings as best they can (Orange County, CA). Others, not so much. 😦


  2. The lives of such men can teach us much. They show us what it is possible for men to do even when faced with horrible circumstances. Their will, skill, and the unswerving sense of responsibility for their fellow man can lead to true heroism. Admiral Stockdale once said that a hero is nothing more than a man who sees a situation that he believes to be unfair, and he takes it upon himself to right it.

    Colonel Joshua Chamberlain once called such men giants, and said that if we were to go, but a single generation without them we would be both damned and doomed. John J. McGinty III was such a man. Thank you for sharing this, Mustang.


  3. “Colonel Joshua Chamberlain once called such men giants, and said that if we were to go, but a single generation without them we would be both damned and doomed.”
    I have thought that, too…though not in such eloquent words. We’re very near that time.

    what does esse apud Deum mean? I Googled and couldn’t find a thing.


  4. I hope Captain John J. McGinty drank long and satisfying pleasures from America and life until the time of his passing.


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