Michael Joseph Crescenz

Army of the United States
14 January 1949 - 20 November 1968
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Panel 38W Line 016

Medal of Honor

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Michael J Crescenz

The database page for Michael Joseph Crescenz

26 Nov 2002

The following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987.

Crescenz was the only Philadelphian to win the Medal of Honor in Viet Nam. The decoration - the highest U. S. Military award - was posthumously bestowed on the 1966 Cardinal Dougherty High School graduate for his actions on November 20, 1968. The 19-year-old corporal was serving as a rifleman with Company A of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry, 196th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, in the Hiep Duc Valley, near Chu Lai, Quang Tin Province. A large, well-entrenched North Vietnamese Army force had pinned down the lead squad of his unit. Crescenz left a fairly safe position, grabbed a machine gun and charged two bunkers, killing the two men in each bunker. He then ran through heavy fire to a third bunker and killed the two men there. He was shot and killed as he approached a fourth bunker, but because of his actions the company eventually defeated the enemy unit. Crescenz had worked as a shipper for a parts distributor before enlisting in the Army in February 1968. He was shipped to Viet Nam in September 1968. He was survived by his parents and five brothers.

This article is taken from The Philadelphia Inquirer of November 26, 1968:


It was Monday evening, shortly after the wire machines, with a certain frantic economy, had tapped out the fact that Army PFC Michael J. Crescenz had died violently in Viet Nam. His brother, Charles, a Marine who had endured 13 months of the same kind of front line hell Michael had succumbed to, was talking about his dead brother. He was sitting in the living room of his parents' home at 7443 Thouron Ave. in West Oak Lane. His father, Charles M., was in another room. His mother was nearby, to be consulted when his memory failed.


Charles, discharged from the Marine Corps in September, is 21. His brother, who didn't live long enough to get the discharge certificate, was 19. "I knew it was going to be tough when he went over," Charles said. "But this is one of those things you keep hoping won't happen." "You know, he was going to get married when he got out." Michael has four other brothers-Peter, 17; Joseph, 12; Stephen, 8, and Christopher, 7. Charles thought it was merciful that most of them are young as they are. "I think," he said, "that they are too young to realize."


PFC Crescenz, killed November 20 in a firefight midway between Saigon and Da Nang, joined the Army last February. He took his basic training at Fort Bragg, NC and was sent to Viet Nam two months ago. He graduated in 1966 from Cardinal Dougherty High School, where he played varsity baseball. Following graduation, he worked at the L. B. Smith C., a truck distributor. "He learned welding at the L. B. Smith Co. and I think he planned to go into that field when he got out," Charles recalled. "It was as much of a shock to me as it was to my parents," Charles said, after a pause. "I kept hoping he would be as fortunate as I was."

From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

30 Mar 2005

I was there when Michael died. No one person in my life has affected me as has Michael. The bullet that got Michael was mine. Not a day that goes by that my thoughts and prayers are not with you, Michael. Thanks for the long life that I have been able to have.

From the medic who was with him when he died,
William H. "Doc" Stafford

07 Jul 2008

Michael, my comrade, on May 12, 2008 I finally got to honor you properly by attending your funeral service in Arlington Cemetery. I was able to connect with your brothers and bring my family to attend this service after almost 40 years. Thank you, brother, for letting me honor you after all these years. Michael, my thoughts are always with you. God bless.

Doc Stafford

William H. "Doc" Stafford
US Army (Ret)
3rd Platoon, A Company 4/31, 196th LIB
08 May 2008

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. I witnessed a ceremony today ... Mike's family had his body removed from his resting place in Pennsylvania to be reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery May 12. Accompanied by the Patriot Guard and Philadelphia police units. A very touching and emotional ceremony. Rest In Peace.

A 1966 Cardinal Dougherty classmate and USMC veteran
Bob Gordon

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Three men from Alpha 4/31 are known to have died in this action:
  • 1LT Kevin G. Burke, Anita, IA (Dist Svc Cross)
  • SGT Danny C. Hudson, Chadron, NE
  • CPL Michael J. Crescenz, Philadelphia, PA (Medal of Honor)

The President of the United States
in the name of the Congress of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

Army of the United States

for service as set forth in the following


CPL Crescenz distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a rifleman with Company A, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment. In the morning his unit engaged a large, well-entrenched force of the North Vietnamese Army whose initial burst of fire pinned down the lead squad and killed the 2 point men, halting the advance of Company A. Immediately, CPL Crescenz left the relative safety of his own position, seized a nearby machinegun and, with complete disregard for his safety, charged 100 meters up a slope toward the enemy's bunkers which he effectively silenced, killing the 2 occupants of each. Undaunted by the withering machinegun fire around him, CPL Crescenz courageously moved forward toward a third bunker which he also succeeded in silencing, killing 2 more of the enemy and momentarily clearing the route of advance for his comrades. Suddenly, intense machinegun fire erupted from an unseen, camouflaged bunker. Realizing the danger to his fellow soldiers, CPL Crescenz disregarded the barrage of hostile fire directed at him and daringly advanced toward the position. Assaulting with his machinegun, CPL Crescenz was within 5 meters of the bunker when he was mortally wounded by the fire from the enemy machinegun. As a direct result of his heroic actions, his company was able to maneuver freely with minimal danger and to complete its mission, defeating the enemy. CPL Crescenz' bravery and extraordinary heroism at the cost of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a native Philadelphian and Vietnam veteran,
Jim McIlhenney

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 26 Nov 2002
Last updated 07/26/2008