Sgt. Maj. John Canley was awarded with the Medal of Honor for his service during the Vietnam War, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 17 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor on Wednesday to a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant major who saved more than a dozen fellow Marines during the Vietnam War.
Retired Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley was presented with the nation's highest military honor in the East Room of the White House for his actions during the Battle of Hue City in February 1968, which Trump regarded as "one of the bloodiest." He praised Canley for his "unmatched bravery" and fearlessness.
During the conflict, Canley -- then a gunnery sergeant -- helped carry injured Marines to safety despite his own injuries. He took command and led his company after his commanding officer was severely injured while leading them into Hue City. Canley also scaled the wall of a hospital compound and exposed himself to enemy fire to save injured Marines. He personally saved a total of 20 Marines.
"John raced straight into enemy fire over and over again, saving numerous American lives and defeating a large group of communist fighters," Trump said. "Despite sustaining serious injuries -- very, very serious injuries -- he continued to face down the enemy with no thought for his own safety."
Canley, 80, retired from the Marine Corps on Oct. 23, 1981, and currently resides in Oxnard, Calif., where he still exercises near the military base and gives advice to young Marines.
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.
"John's fellow Marines have described him as a Marine warrior ... who is bigger than life and beyond the reach of death," Trump said. "He is truly larger than life."
The ceremony was attended by about 300 people including members of the armed forces who served alongside Canley in the Battle of Hue City as well as his children Patricia Sargent, Ricky Canley and Yukari Canley, and grandchildren Candice Canley and Viktoria Sargent.