Operation Lafayette

25 January-7 February 1967

Location: Hoi An, Quang Nam Province. Type: search and destroy. Controlling headquarters: 1st Marines. Task organization: 1/1 Marines, 2/1 Marines, 3/1 Marines, C/1st Tank Bn, A/3d Amph Bn. Execution: Operation took place 9 km north of Hoi An. Results: 77 enemy killed, 170 detained, 6 US KIA, 41 US WIA, 1 US MIA.

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Hospitalman Alexander Coles, Jr. (NSN: 8404067), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against a hostile force while serving as a Corpsman with Company D, First Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in action on 23 January 1967, in the Republic of Vietnam. When the second platoon of Company D was brought under a withering barrage of enemy small arms fire, and sustained several casualties, Petty Officer Coles quickly moved from his position in the rear squad to the front where the casualties were located. Unhesitatingly, he rushed into the open rice paddy, completely oblivious of the intense fire he was drawing, and treated the first wounded man he spotted, who was lying in a completely exposed position. After treating the casualty, Petty Officer Coles pinpointed another seriously wounded Marine, and began to crawl, still further into the exposed position to give aid to the fallen comrade. In a valiant attempt to reach the wounded man, Petty Officer Coles was fatally wounded when struck by enemy gunfire. By his courageous actions, complete disregard for his own safety, and selfless devotion to duty, he upheld the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: 23-Jan-67