PETER S CONNOR - SSGT
- south orange
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- September 04, 1932
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- March 08, 1966
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Peter S. Connor was born on September 4, 1932, in South Orange, NJ. He attended elementary school in South Orange and graduated from South Orange High School in 1950. He had a beautiful tenor voice, was involved in many local shows and was a member of the Montclair Opera Club. He sang for local organizations and was a vocalist in Our Lady of Sorrows Church.
He enlisted in the US Marine Corps in February 1952, and received recruit training with the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. He was promoted to Private First Class upon graduation from Recruit Training in April 1952, and transferred to the West Coast where he joined the 2nd Infantry Training Regiment. He joined the 1st Replacement Battalion after completing his advanced infantry training.
Upon his return to the US in October 1953, Corporal Connor served as a Squad Leader and Platoon Guide with Company B, First Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, NC, until released from active duty in February 4, 1955.
While on inactive duty, he was a member of the Ready Reserve with the 4th and 1st Marine Corps Reserve and Recruitment Districts and with the 7th Rifle Company, USMCR, Lake Denmark, Dover, NJ. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve in May 1961, to re-enlist in the regular Marine Corps. Promoted to Sergeant that same month, he was assigned as Platoon Guide with Casual Company, Headquarters Battalion, and with Company A, Schools Demonstration Troops, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, VA.
Transferred to the West Coast in July 1962, he served as a Platoon Guide with Company G, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF at Camp Pendleton. In November 1963, his unit was sent overseas and re-designated as Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division (Rein), FMF. He served first as a Platoon Guide, but prior to the unit's return the next November, he was assigned as a Platoon Sergeant.
Upon the unit's return to Camp Pendleton, it was re-designated as Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Sergeant Connor was promoted to Staff Sergeant (SSGT) on May 1, 1965, and that August his unit was sent overseas where it became a part of the 3rd Marine Division. Sergeant Connor was transferred, while overseas, to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division (Rein), FMF and served as a Platoon Sergeant.
He was serving with this unit when it was assigned under the 1st Marine Division. He was wounded in action on February 25, 1966, and died of those wounds while on board the USS REPOSE on March 8, 1966.
Connor chose to sacrifice his own life by covering a grenade to protect the lives of his men. His platoon was taking part in a search and destroy operation in Quang Ngai Province in an area of extensive caves and tunnel complexes. He became the Marine Corps' fifth Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War. The President of the United States presented the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony to Peter S. Connor's widow.
Connor also received the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Occupation Service Medal, Navy Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with 3 stars, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, Vietnamese Military Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
His Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against enemy Viet Cong forces at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Leading his platoon on a search and destroy operation in an area made particularly hazardous by extensive cave and tunnel complexes, S/Sgt. Connor maneuvered his unit aggressively forward under intermittent enemy small-arms fire. Exhibiting particular alertness and keen observation, he spotted an enemy spider hole emplacement approximately 15 meters to his front. He pulled the pin from a fragmentation grenade intending to charge the hole boldly and drop the missile into its depths. Upon pulling the pin he realized that the firing mechanism was faulty, and that even as he held the safety device firmly in place, the fuse charge was already activated. With only precious seconds to decide, he further realized that he could not cover the distance to the small opening of the spider hole in sufficient time, and that to hurl the deadly bomb in any direction would result in death or injury to some of his comrades tactically deployed near him. Manifesting extraordinary gallantry and with utter disregard for his personal safety, he chose to hold the grenade against his body in order to absorb the terrific explosion and spare his comrades. His act of extreme valor and selflessness in the face of virtually certain death, although leaving him mortally wounded, spared many of his fellow marines from death or injury. His gallant action in giving his life in the cause of freedom reflects the highest credit upon the Marine Corps and the Armed Forces of the Unites States.
Sources: Mary Connor (sister) and NJVVMF.
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