Medal of Honor Citation, July 1967
[CENTER][*******black]NEWLIN, MELVIN EARL [/COLOR][/CENTER]
[*******black]Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Place and date: Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, 4 July 1967. Entered service at: Cleveland, Ohio. Born: 27 September 1948, Wellsville, Ohio. [/COLOR]
[*******black]Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner attached to the 1st Platoon, Company F, 2d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF on 3 and 4 July 1967. [/COLOR]
[*******black]Pfc. Newlin, with 4 other marines, was manning a key position on the perimeter of the Nong Son outpost when the enemy launched a savage and well coordinated mortar and infantry assault, seriously wounding him and killing his 4 comrades. Propping himself against his machine gun, he poured a deadly accurate stream of fire into the charging ranks of the Viet Cong. Though repeatedly hit by small-arms fire, he twice repelled enemy attempts to overrun his position. During the third attempt, a grenade explosion wounded him again and knocked him to the ground unconscious. The Viet Cong guerrillas, believing him dead, bypassed him and continued their assault on the main force. Meanwhile, Pfc. Newlin regained consciousness, crawled back to his weapon, and brought it to bear on the rear of the enemy, causing havoc and confusion among them. Spotting the enemy attempting to bring a captured 106 recoilless weapon to bear on other marine positions, he shifted his fire, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy and preventing them from firing the captured weapon. He then shifted his fire back to the primary enemy force, causing the enemy to stop their assault on the marine bunkers and to once again [/COLOR][*******black]attack his machine gun position. Valiantly fighting off 2 more enemy assaults, he firmly held his ground until mortally wounded. [/COLOR]
[*******black]Pfc. Newlin had single-handedly broken up and disorganized the entire enemy assault force, causing them to lose momentum and delaying them long enough for his fellow marines to organize a defense and beat off their secondary attack. His indomitable courage, fortitude, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death reflect great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. [/COLOR]
The Marine who wouldn't quit
Thursday, November 11, 2004
By Milan Simonich, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WELLSVILLE, Ohio -- Melvin E. Newlin knew all about hardship. Raised by a hard-drinking father and a mother busy with seven other children, he lived in foster homes and split time between two different high schools.
He had no money, no connections and, for a good part of his boyhood, no dreams. He could not sing, act or shoot a jump shot, yet he became famous at 18, for he was the Marine who refused to quit on a Vietnamese battlefield.
Notoriety for Newlin seemed unlikely when he graduated from Wellsville High School in 1966. He ranked 82nd in a class of 128, "a solid C student," said Richard Bereschik, now the principal.
Newlin enlisted in the Marine Corps a month after receiving his diploma, bypassing the chance to make a living close to home. Today, jobs are scarce in Wellsville, an Appalachian village of 4,100 about an hour west of Pittsburgh. Life seemed better in the 1960s, when potteries, steel mills and factories that made china were hiring every day.
Even with the war in Vietnam escalating, Newlin decided to hitch his future to the Marine Corps.
"I guess Melvin wanted to get out of here," said his brother, Joe Newlin, who still lives on a winding country road just outside Wellsville.
Joe and his wife, Betty, took in Melvin during his senior year of high school. They said Melvin had left a foster home and returned to his parents, but the reunion did not last long.
As Joe Newlin remembers it, Melvin showed up at his door one day, bloody and sad. The latest episode of family violence solidified his determination to join the Marines.
Another brother, Richard Newlin, of Portland, Ind., said he did not believe Melvin chose the Marine Corps because he was abused or lonesome. Rather, Richard Newlin said, Melvin burned with ambition.
"He was the best of the bunch, the only one of six brothers to finish high school. The rest of us was kind of wild. Melvin wanted to do something with his life."
Melvin became a machine gunner with the 1st Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion. In letters to Joe and Betty, he wrote that the Vietnam War was not as bad as the media reported. It was much worse.
"Joe, don't listen to all you hear on TV because people don't give all the facts," Melvin wrote on June 30, 1967. "Just last month my company nearly got wiped out on Operation Union II."
He mentioned in the same letter that he had been wounded in the arm and leg.
"Please don't tell Mom, though," he wrote. "You know how she is about those little things."
Less than a week later, on the night of July 3, 1967, Newlin's company moved to Nong Son Mountain. The site of South Vietnam's only active coal mine, it turned into a bloody battleground just before midnight.
Some 400 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army regulars attacked the Marines with rifles, grenades and mortars. Trapped in close quarters, the two sides fought with knives and fists after their ammunition ran out. One Marine turned the cast on his arm into a weapon, using it to beat an enemy soldier to death.
Newlin manned a perimeter with four other Marines. As cool as any 18-year-old private could be, he kept firing his machine gun after shrapnel tore into his skinny frame and the men alongside him were killed.
"Propping himself against his machine gun, he poured a deadly accurate stream of fire into the charging ranks of the Viet Cong," says the U.S. government's official account of the battle.
"Though repeatedly hit by small-arms fire, he twice repelled enemy attempts to overrun his position."
Newlin stopped shooting when a grenade explosion knocked him unconscious. The Viet Cong thought he was dead -- a fatal mistake for many of its soldiers.
After waking, Newlin crawled back to his machine gun and fired at the Viet Cong who had bypassed him. He also had the presence to turn his machine gun on guerrillas who had captured a re-coilless weapon from the Americans.
By then, the clock had turned. It was the Fourth of July, the morning Newlin's bravery became legend.
The government's official battle account says Newlin "single-handedly broke up and disorganized the entire enemy assault force, causing them to lose momentum and delaying them long enough for his fellow Marines to organize a defense and hold off their secondary attack."
It was Newlin's finest hour, and his last one. Hit again by enemy fire, he died on that battlefield in Quang Nam Province.
Joe Newlin, now 60, thinks about his little brother every day.
"What he did in Vietnam means to me that boy tried. He wasn't going to give up."
Melvin Newlin, in his last letter home, had promised as much.
"I guess the good Lord doesn't have my number on his list yet," he wrote just before the battle on Nong Son Mountain. "But someday my number will show up, and when it does I'll go down fighting, just like all the Newlin boys."
In death, Pfc. Newlin became Wellsville's most prominent native.
In 1969, President Richard Nixon posthumously awarded him the Medal of Honor, America's highest award for combat valor.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is housed in Newlin Hall in Quantico, Va.
Newlin is in the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2001, part of a group that included singer Dean Martin and basketball coach Hank Kuzma.
Newlin would be 56 now, but it is impossible to imagine him as a man nearing retirement. To those who remember him, he will always be a selfless teenager.
The Newlin family is not close. Melvin's parents are long dead. Joe said siblings rarely speak. So strained are relationships that not everybody is certain what became of Melvin's Medal of Honor.
One story is that it burned in a fire at his late mother's trailer house. Joe Newlin also has heard that his brother, Richard, has the medal.
In an interview, Richard said he has the medal safely locked up.
If this divided family has any common ground, it is celebrating Melvin's life.
Anyone who drives into Wellsville is traveling the Melvin E. Newlin Memorial Highway. It covers 5.3 miles of Route 7 between Wellsville and East Liverpool, small towns that young Newlin wanted to escape.
Too bad he never had a chance to see them in a different light -- as a veteran coming home from war.
That's some hardcore soldiering. RIP to a hero who saved a lot of lives at cost of his own.
Originally Posted by KB
Pic of Nong Son Area; AO of 2/5 during the summer of '67 was the An Hoa Basin. "Arizona Territory"
RIP Newlin. It is always great to hear about heroes like that.
man that dude was awesome, much respect to him and what he did