By Direction

of the

President of the United States


Distinguished Service Cross

Is Awarded 


Martin J. Canavan Jr.



Rank and Organization:   Staff Sergeant, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)

Date and Place:  29 March 1969,  Republic of Vietnam

Reason:  For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam:  Staff Sergeant Canavan distinguished himself by exceptional valorous actions on 29 March 1969 while leading a platoon involved in a mission in enemy dominated terrain in Tay Ninh Province.  Having just made a combat assault into the area, Sergeant Canavan's company set up a defensive perimeter prior to constructing a landing zone.  As the first supply helicopters approached the site, the enemy opened fire on the company with small arms, automatic weapons and rockets.  After the initial barrage, Sergeant Canavan was placed in charge of the third platoon with instructions to assist the first and second platoons, who had received the brunt of the attack.  He effectively emplaced his men to lay down protective fire under which the two threatened platoons could withdraw to safety.  He then personally led a squad to remove the injured men in the killing zone.  When increased bombardment forced his squad to pull back, he called in air strikes and artillery to silence the enemy.  After organizing and leading an assault on the wood line, where the foe lay entrenched, he seized the opportunity offerd by the advance to evacuate the wounded and dead who were stranded after the first attack.  When the bodies had been removed and the wounded given emergency treatment, Sergeant Canavan pulled his troops back to avoid further casualties.  In a last minute effort to reach another wounded comrade pinned down in the open by enemy fire Sergeant Canavan was struck down by intense enemy fire.  Staff Sergeant Canavan's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.



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