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Vietnam War Medal Of Honor Recipient Richard Pittman Passes Away

October 20, 2016

Vietnam war hero and Medal of Honor recipient Richard Pittman passed away last week on October 13, at the age of 71.

Pittman’s funeral memorial is scheduled for October 24th at Bear Creek Community Church in Lodi, California at 11:00 am with graveside military honors. After that, there is a gathering at SPOA building in the Port. 11171 N. Lower Sacramento road.

Pittman was not permitted to be enlisted in the Army or Navy due to being legally blind in one eye, but on September 27, 1964, Pittman was able to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve at Stockton, California. He was then discharged on October 31 and enlisted in the regular Marine Corps the following day.

He was later promoted to private first class after graduating from individual combat training with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California.

Serving as a lance corporal at the time, Pittman was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 24, 1966 near the he Demilitarized Zone in the Republic of Vietnam.

His Medal of Honor citation reads:

“On July 24, 1966, while Company I was conducting an operation along the axis of a narrow jungle trail, the leading company elements suffered numerous casualties when they suddenly came under heavy fire from a well concealed and numerically superior enemy force. Hearing the engaged Marines’ calls for more firepower, Sergeant (then Lance Corporal) Pittman quickly exchanged his rifle for a machine gun and several belts of ammunition, left the relative safety of his platoon, and unhesitatingly rushed forward to aid his comrades. Taken under intense enemy small-arms fire at point blank range during his advance, he returned the fire, silencing the enemy positions. As Sergeant Pittman continued to forge forward to aid members of the leading platoon, he again came under heavy fire from two automatic weapons which he promptly destroyed. Learning that there were additional wounded Marines fifty yards further along the trail, he braved a withering hail of enemy mortar and small-arms fire to continue onward. As he reached the position where the leading Marines had fallen, he was suddenly confronted with a bold frontal attack by 30 to 40 enemy. Totally disregarding his own safety, he calmly established a position in the middle of the trail and raked the advancing enemy with devastating machine-gun fire. His weapon rendered ineffective, he picked up a submachine gun and, together with a pistol seized from a fallen comrade, continued his lethal fire until the enemy force had withdrawn. Having exhausted his ammunition except for a grenade which he hurled at the enemy, he then rejoined his own platoon. Sergeant Pittman’s daring initiative, bold fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty inflicted many enemy casualties, disrupted the enemy attack and saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades. His personal valor at grave risk to himself reflects the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”

On October 27, 1988, Pittman retired from his 21 year service in the Marine Corps as a Master Sergeant.