On Wednesday, October 17, 2018, President Donald J. Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Major John L. Canley, United States Marine Corps (Retired), for conspicuous gallantry.
Sergeant Major John L. Canley received the Medal of Honor for his actions from January 31 to February 6, 1968, while assigned to Company A, First Battalion, First Marines in the Republic of Vietnam. While serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant, he fought off multiple enemy attacks as his company moved along a highway toward Hue City to relieve friendly forces who were surrounded. On several occasions, despite his own wounds, he rushed across fire-swept terrain to carry wounded Marines to safety. When his commanding officer was severely wounded, he took command and led his company into Hue City. While in command of the company for three days, he led attacks against multiple enemy-fortified positions while exposing himself to enemy fire to carry wounded Marines to safety. On February 6, at a hospital compound, he twice scaled a wall in full view of the enemy to aid wounded Marines and carry them to safety. Then-Gunnery Sergeant Canley's heroic actions saved the lives of his teammates.
Sergeant Major (Retired) John L. Canley was born in Caledonia, Arkansas. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sergeant Major Canley has three adult children, Ricky, Patricia, and Yukari. In 1970, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Nation's second-highest medal of valor, for his actions during the Battle of Hue City in February 1968. Sergeant Major Canley retired from the United States Marine Corps October 23, 1981, and currently resides in Oxnard, California. Some of his interests include physical fitness, travel, reading, marksmanship, and spending time with his family. His personal awards include a Bronze Star with combat "V,"
Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat "V," and the Combat Action Ribbon. Additional awards and decorations include four Presidential Unit Citations, seven Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, two Marine Corps Expeditionary Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, nine Vietnam Service Medals, two Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Crosses, the Korean Defense Service Medal, three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation, the United Nations Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Device, the Rifle Expert Badge (11th Award), and the Pistol Expert Badge (16th Award).