RIP John J. McGinty III, MOH Vietnam
John J. McGinty III, a retired Marine Corps captain who received the Medal of Honor for his efforts to lead, protect and rally his outnumbered platoon during an assault in a jungle in Vietnam, died Jan. 17 at his home in Beaufort, S.C. He was 73.
The cause was bone cancer, said his son Michael McGinty.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 2d Lt. McGinty's platoon, which was providing rear security to protect the withdrawal of the battalion from a position which had been under attack for 3 days, came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire from an estimated enemy regiment. With each successive human wave which assaulted his 32-man platoon during the 4-hour battle, 2d Lt. McGinty rallied his men to beat off the enemy. In 1 bitter assault, 2 of the squads became separated from the remainder of the platoon. With complete disregard for his safety, 2d Lt. McGinty charged through intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to their position. Finding 20 men wounded and the medical corpsman 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 5 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 50 yards of his position. This destructive firepower routed the enemy, who left an estimated 500 bodies on the battlefield. 2d Lt. 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 U.S. Naval Service.
After the war he worked with the VA, and became a devout Christian, as is made clear in the Washington Post article:
John James McGinty III was born Jan. 21, 1940, in Boston, and spent parts of his youth in Connecticut and Kentucky. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1957 after graduating from high school. He had been enticed by the Navy slogan “Join the Navy and See the World” but preferred the Marine Corps uniform.
Capt. McGinty’s injuries in Vietnam led to the loss of his left eye, his son said. Besides the Medal of Honor, his decorations including the Purple Heart.
He served as a drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C., and worked after his two-decade military career in administrative positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs and its predecessor agency, the Veterans Administration.
After his service in Vietnam, Capt. McGinty developed what his son described as a deep conservative Christian faith. He distanced himself from wearing his medal — although he continued to take pride in its significance — because it bears the image of the Roman goddess Minerva.
“If the Marine Corps taught me anything, it was how to follow orders, and now that I’m a Christian I follow God’s orders — the Ten Commandments,” Capt. McGinty told the Associated Press in 1984. “The medal is a form of idolatry because it has a false god on it.”
Capt. McGinty recalled that, having not yet found his faith, he did not pray in Vietnam.
“But I thought, ‘If there is a God, please let him watch out for my children,’ ” he said. “I thought I was going to die for sure.”
Rest in Peace sir.