Michael Edward Hopkins

Private First Class
K CO, 3RD BN, 9TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV
United States Marine Corps
23 December 1944 - 04 July 1966
Norfolk, Virginia
Panel 08E Line 129

3RD MARDIV 9TH MARINES
Navy Cross

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Michael E Hopkins

The database page for Michael Edward Hopkins

16 Feb 2004

Awarded the Navy Cross for heroic action during Operation Macon on July 4th 1966.

The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the

NAVY CROSS

posthumously to

Michael Edward Hopkins
Private First Class
United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism while serving as an Automatic Rifleman with Company K, Third Battalion, Ninth Marines, in the Republic of Vietnam on 4 July 1966. During a search and destroy operation, the company was taken under heavy small-arms, automatic-weapons, and 57mm recoilless rifle fire from a numerically superior Viet Cong force. When an LVT was hit by a 57mm recoilless rifle round, Private First Class Hopkins immediately ran through the hail of small-arms fire to aid the injured crew. After he had helped remove the injured men from the LVT, he and three other Marines were sent to a forward position in order to give covering fire. As the ammunition ran low, Private First Class Hopkins repeatedly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he ran across open ground to the supply point. After his sixth trip, he saw his squad leader fall from wounds. Although exhausted from the heat and carrying ammunition, he courageously exposed himself again to heavy incoming fire in order to administer immediate first aid to his squad leader. As he was treating the wounded Marine, he noticed a corpsman attempting to maneuver to his position. Seizing his rifle once again, he began giving covering fire to enable the corpsman to attain his objective. Seconds after the corpsman reached the location an enemy rifle grenade exploded nearby killing the squad leader and wounding the corpsman. Realizing that the enemy fire was too intense for anyone to come to their aid, Private First Class Hopkins, in a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice, deliberately exposed himself in an effort to direct attention away from the wounded, absorbing with his own body the full force of the deadly enemy fire. Through his extraordinary loyalty and initiative in the face of almost certain death, he saved his comrades from further injury and possible loss of life, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Marine Hero's Mother To Accept Navy Cross

NORFOLK - The nation's second highest decoration, awarded posthumously to a Marine who used his body as a decoy to draw fire from his comrades, will be presented to his mother Wednesday morning.

Mrs. Mary Perkins of 570 West Ocean View Ave. Will receive the Navy Cross presented to her son Pfc. Michael E. Hopkins, who was killed in action in South Vietnam on July 4, 1966.

Hopkins was an automatic rifleman in Company "K" of the 9th Marine Regiment. He died attempting to shield two fallen comrades by drawing Vietcong fire upon himself.

The company was on a search and destroy mission that started early that morning moving from the southeast towards Thu Bon. At about 12:30 pm the troops stopped to eat chow and sat around discussing the heat and humidity as it was about 110 degrees that day. Because it was the 4th of July they talked about what they would be doing if they were home such as family cookouts and firecrackers.

At about 1:20 pm they picked up and began moving again. Radio reports had stated that there were no Vietcong in the area which proved to be quite the contrary. The transition to battle was sudden and violent. As they neared an abandoned airfield they were ambushed by two VC battalions and encountered heavy enemy fire from small arms, machine guns and 57mm recoilless rifles from a numerically superior Vietcong force, the citation says.

A 57mm shell fired into the Marine columns hitting one of their tracked landing vehicles. The rest of the ambush party opened up with mortars, machine guns and small arms.

The initial burst killed the crew chief of the track vehicle and two other Marines had been wounded. Pfc. Hopkins immediately ran through the hail of gunfire to aid the injured crew the citation stated.

After he had helped remove the injured men Hopkins and three other Marines were sent forward to give covering fire while the injured men were taken to the rear.

As ammunition got low, Hopkins dashed across open ground to a supply point, picked up ammunition and dashed back. He did this six times, through constant heavy fire.

On the sixth trip his squad leader was wounded and Hopkins again exposed himself to the murderous fire to give first aid. He was engaged in this when he noticed a corpsman attempting to reach him. He immediately jumped up to deliver covering fire, permitting the corpsman to reach the wounded Marine.

Seconds after the corpsman reached the location an enemy rifle grenade exploded nearby killing the squad leader and wounding the corpsman.

"Realizing that the enemy fire was too intense for anyone to come to their aid, Pfc. Hopkins, in a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice, deliberately exposed himself in an effort to direct attention away from the wounded, absorbing with his own body the full force of the deadly enemy fire.

Through his extraordinary loyalty and initiative in the face of almost certain death, he saved his comrades from further injury and possible loss of life, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service." the citation says.

Hopkins was ordered to active duty in February 1963 for basic training at Parris Island S.C. He was shipped to Vietnam in November 1963.

His first tour was with the Navy Task Force 77, operating off the coast of Vietnam. He returned to the United States in December 1964.

In July 1965 he joined "K" Company of the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, in Vietnam and a year later gave his life in the action which earned him the Navy Cross.

The medal is second only to the Medal of Honor. "He gallantly gave his life for his country." the citation says.

From a contemporary Norfolk newspaper.
Taken from Mike "Gomer" Pyle's site

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 04 July 1966 Kilo Company, 3/9 Marines, supported by amphibious tractors from Bravo Company, 1st Amtrac Bn, was conducting a routine search and clear mission northeast of An Hoa when, in the early afternoon, they were ambushed by two VC companies. By late afternoon III MAF, concluding the enemy was present in force and intended to fight, began the insertion of additional Marines, eventually building to five maneuver battalions under the name Operation MACON.

The initial ambush is described clearly enough in PFC Hopkins' Citation and the newspaper article above. A second Navy Cross was won that day by Amtrac crewman LCpl Donald E. Lumbard and a third by Hospital Corpsman (HM2) William L. Hickey, both of whom survived. Six men from Kilo 3/9 and two from B/1st Amtracs are known to have been killed in action during the initial fighting:

  • 3rd Bn, 9th Marines
    • Cpl Johnie L. Blount, Groton, CT, Kilo 3/9
    • Cpl Glenn E. Spratley, Houston, TX, Kilo 3/9
    • LCpl Esteban M. Alvarez, Tucson, AZ, Kilo 3/9
    • LCpl Larasett E. Avington, Chicago, IL, Kilo 3/9
    • LCpl Raymond Widmann, Lindenhurst, NY, H&S 3/9
    • PFC Michael E. Hopkins, Norfolk, VA (Navy Cross), Kilo 3/9

  • B Co, 1st Amtrac Bn
    • Cpl David W. Terrell, Shreveport, LA
    • PFC Stephen C. Forrest, Westminster, CA


The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his brother,
Tom Hopkins
Mineral Wells, Texas
darla64@cox-internet.com



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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 16 Feb 2004
Last updated 01/28/2010