John J. McGinty III, a retired Marine Corps officer who received the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of dozens of his men during an enemy attack in Vietnam, but later relinquished it for religious reasons, died on Friday in Beaufort, S.C. He was 73.There are now 76 surviving Medal of Honor recipients, 52 of whom were awarded the medal for Vietnam War service.
The cause was bone cancer, his son Michael said.
Staff Sgt. McGinty, a platoon leader, had already been severely wounded in the left eye by shrapnel during heavy fighting on July 18, 1966, when about 20 of his men became separated from the others and found themselves pinned down by enemy fire on three sides.
He received the Medal of Honor for sprinting through gunfire and mortar shell blasts to reach them and lead them to safety.
Mr. McGinty led one of four platoons in Company K of the Third Battalion, Third Marine Division, during a major sortie in July 1966 known as Operation Hastings. The mission was to block North Vietnamese troops from infiltrating the demilitarized zone between the Communist-led North and the American-backed South.
John James McGinty III was born in Boston on Jan. 21, 1940, to John and Eve McGinty and grew up in Louisville, Ky. His father was a diver for commercial deep-sea recovery operations
Besides his son Michael, Mr. McGinty is survived by another son, John J. McGinty IV. His wife, Elaine Elizabeth Hathaway, died in 1991.
Mr. McGinty retired from the Marines as a captain in October 1976. He later worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in several positions. After years of surgical efforts to repair it, Mr. McGinty lost his left eye. He wore an eye patch in public.
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JOHN JAMES McGINTY III
Second Lieutenant (then Staff Sergeant), US Marine Corps; Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force
Born: 21 January 1940, Boston, Massachusetts
Died: 17 January 2014, Beaufort, South Carolina
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty [in the Republic of Vietnam, on 18 July 1966]. 2d Lt. McGinty's platoon, which was providing rear security to protect the withdrawal of the battalion from a position which had been under attack for 3 days, came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire from an estimated enemy regiment. With each successive human wave which assaulted his 32-man platoon during the 4-hour battle, 2d Lt. McGinty rallied his men to beat off the enemy. In 1 bitter assault, 2 of the squads became separated from the remainder of the platoon. With complete disregard for his safety, 2d Lt. McGinty charged through intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to their position. Finding 20 men wounded and the medical corpsman killed, he quickly reloaded ammunition magazines and weapons for the wounded men and directed their fire upon the enemy. Although he was painfully wounded as he moved to care for the disabled men, he continued to shout encouragement to his troops and to direct their fire so effectively that the attacking hordes were beaten off. When the enemy tried to out-flank his position, he killed 5 of them at point-blank range with his pistol. When they again seemed on the verge of overrunning the small force, he skillfully adjusted artillery and air strikes within 50 yards of his position. This destructive firepower routed the enemy, who left an estimated 500 bodies on the battlefield. 2d Lt. McGinty's personal heroism, indomitable leadership, selfless devotion to duty, and bold fighting spirit inspired his men to resist the repeated attacks by a fanatical enemy, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.