Navy Cross

Dennie D. Peterson

Citation:    For extraordinary heroism while serving as Artillery Forward Observer with the Second Battalion, Eleventh Marines and attached to Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam. On 6 September 1967, during Operation SWIFT, the advance of Company I was halted by devastating automatic weapons fire from a massed, entrenched North Vietnamese Army force. Fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire, Second Lieutenant Peterson moved over the fire-swept terrain to a position from which he could bring supporting arms to bear on the determined enemy force. Courageously, he moved from one position to another to gain a better vantage point to adjust his fires. Fearing for the life of his radio operator, he took the radio, put it on his back, and moved into contested ground beyond the company perimeter to a position where he could better observe and continue to direct and adjust artillery. His prompt and accurate fires immediately inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. Although he was drawing fire from at least five enemy automatic weapons and was painfully wounded, he remained in his unfavorable position for two hours adjusting artillery. After darkness fell the enemy was soundly repulsed, he crawled back to his own lines, and despite his own wounds and the heavy volume of fire, assisted another wounded Marine into the perimeter. After being treated and with temporary discontinuation of artillery fires, Second Lieutenant Peterson organized groups of Marines and led them through the enemy lines on three occasions recovering casualties and carrying them to protected areas in the company area. Although he was wounded on four separate occasions, he disregarded his painful wounds and continued to direct and coordinate fire and aid wounded Marines at great personal risk. While being treated for his wounds, he was hit by a burst of automatic weapons fire and mortally wounded. By his calm courage, intrepid fighting spirit and dynamic leadership, Second Lieutenant Peterson served to inspire all who observed him and contributed materially to the accomplishment of his unit's mission. His great personal valor reflected the highest credit upon himself and enhanced the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.