President Trump presents Medal of Honor at the White House

Marine Sgt Maj John Canley being awarded the Medal of Honor by President Trump

Trump, echoing the comments of Canley's fellow troops, said Canley had showed throughout his entire life that he was a Marine's Marine.

When the White House announced in September that he would receive the Medal of Honor, Canley issued a statement saying he was accepting the award on behalf of those he served with in Vietnam.

Pentagon officials told CBN News, after Canley's captain was wounded in the fighting, then-Gunnery Sgt. Canley took command of his company to fend off multiple enemy attacks. The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President to members of the Armed Forces who "distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty" during a military operation.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Canley received the Bronze Star with "V" device for valor, the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with "V" device for valor for his service in Vietnam between 1964 and 1970, according to his Marine biography. The Marines who fought alongside Canley in Vietnam's brutal Battle of Hue had worked for years to see him receive the award - an upgrade of the Navy Cross that he was awarded in 1970.

Canley retired from the Marine Corps in 1981 after serving 28 years as a Marine.

It's unusual for someone to be awarded the Medal of Honor so many years after the heroic action which the medal honors.

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"He assaulted enemy strongholds, killed enemy fighters, and with deadly accuracy did everything you had to do", said Trump.

In the battle for the St. Joan of Arc School and Church, Canley and charged into heavy enemy machine gun fire, using rocket launchers to drive the communist forces from their stronghold, the president said.

He is "a Marine warrior, who is bigger than life and beyond the reach of death". "This was not the first time I saw Gunny Canley act heroically".

"Their bravery and sacrifice is unparalleled", Canley said. After a review of the case, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis agreed in December 2017 that Canley was deserving of the honor. "As a leader, as long as subordinate unit leaders take care of their people, you don't really have to worry about the mission".

Rep. Julia Brownley, who represents Canley's congressional district in Oxnard, California, sponsored legislation that would waive the five-year time limit on presenting the award. The bill passed in January with bipartisan support. "It does represent the best of all of us - the best of our country and our patriotism". He enlisted in Little Rock and served in the Marine Corps until 1980. "All I can say is keep it up, I think it'll pay dividends".

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