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Operation Long Lance

January 3 - 8, 1966

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Corporal John J. Skalba (MCSN: 2042737), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with Company D, First Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in the Republic of Vietnam on 5 January 1966. As a fire team leader in the Second Platoon, Corporal Skalba was taking part in a search and destroy operation against the Viet Cong insurgents in the vicinity of DaNang. Crossing an exposed paddy area, the lead elements of the platoon encountered an estimated twenty-five to fifty well-concealed Viet Cong armed with machine guns, automatic rifles, and carbines. One Marine was killed (LCpl Juan B. Valtierra) and several were wounded almost immediately. Corporal Skalba remained on his feet and returned a heavy volume of fire, temporarily silencing one of the machine guns, and thus enabling the men in the open to find cover. Shouting encouragement to those around him, he expanded six full magazines at the enemy and was emptying his seventh magazine when he was mortally wounded by a burst of automatic fire. By his selfless, heroic actions and complete disregard for his own personal safety, Corporal Skalba saved several other Marines from injury or death, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom.
Action Date: January 5, 1966.

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