Joe Calvin Paul

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
23 April 1946 - 19 August 1965
Dayton, Ohio
Panel 02E Line 063


Medal of Honor

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Joe Calvin Paul

06 Dec 2002

Joe C Paul


for his heroism on 18 August 1965
during Operation Starlight
on the Vantuong Peninsula near Chu Lai.

From a brother in combat,
John E Mongiove

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



Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. In violent battle, LCPL Paul's platoon sustained 5 casualties as it was temporarily pinned down, by devastating mortar, recoilless rifle, automatic weapons, and rifle fire delivered by insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in well entrenched positions. The wounded Marines were unable to move from their perilously exposed positions forward of the remainder of their platoon, and were suddenly subjected to a barrage of white phosphorous rifle grenades. LCPL Paul, fully aware that his tactics would almost certainly result in serious injury or death to himself, chose to disregard his safety and boldly dashed across the fire-swept rice paddies, placed himself between his wounded comrades and the enemy, and delivered effective suppressive fire with his automatic weapon in order to divert the attack long enough to allow the casualties to be evacuated. Although critically wounded during the course of the battle, he resolutely remained in his exposed position and continued to fire his rifle until he collapsed and was evacuated. By his fortitude and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death, he saved the lives of several of his fellow Marines. His heroic action served to inspire all who observed him and reflect the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom.

30 Sep 2004

A KNOX Class destroyer escort, USS PAUL (DE-1080) was named for LCpl Joe Calvin Paul. PAUL's keel was laid 12 September 1969 at Avondale Shipyards, Westwego, Louisiana. She was christened and launched 20 June 1970, and was commissioned 14 August 1971 at Boston Naval Shipyard. In the latter part of 1972, PAUL departed the United States for the Western Pacific, and arrived off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam on 23 November where she immediately went into action in support of ground troops ashore. One of PAUL's first Gunfire Support Missions (NGFS) was at Chu Lai, where Lance Corporal Joe C. Paul, for whom the ship was named, died on 19 August 1965 from wounds received in battle on 18 August while participating in Operation Starlite. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. The USS PAUL was reclassified as a Fast Frigate (FF) on 01 July 1975. The USS PAUL (FF-1080) was decomissioned in August 1992. She was subsequently stricken from the Register of Naval Vessels and sold to the Turkish Navy. The Turks stripped PAUL for parts to maintain five other KNOX class frigates, then beached her hull and scrapped her. A terrible end to a good ship.

From one who served in USS PAUL (FF-1080) from 07/75 to 06/78,
LT Ted A. Painter, USN, Retired
11 Ames Street, Onancock, Va 23417

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 2nd Bn, 4th Marines (2/4) arrived in Chu Lai in May 1965, but initial contacts with the enemy were minimal. OPERATION STARLITE, the first regimental-sized battle for American forces since the Korean War and the first major engagement for 2/4, was an assault against the 1st Viet Cong Regiment's positions on the Van Tuong Peninsula, 15 miles south of the Chu Lai airstrip. Three Marine battalions (2nd Bn 4th Marines, 3rd Bn 3rd Marines, and 3rd Bn 7th Marines) and supporting units were involved.

On 18 August 1965 Mike 3/3 approached the area on foot, while the remaining forces were landed by amphibious and heliborne assault. Hotel 2/4 was landed in the middle of the Vietcong 60th Battalion's position and immediately surrounded. Two miles north India 3/3 was heavily engaged by another VC battalion. 18 August cost the lives of 45 sailors and Marines, but set the stage for decisively defeating the 1st VC Regiment, killing 614 Viet Cong.

Hotel 2/4 lost 16 men as a result of the day's fighting:

  • GySgt Albert H. Raitt, Neptune City, NJ
  • SSgt James A. Smith, Warsaw, KY
  • Sgt Jerry D. Tharp, Kemp, TX
  • Sgt Peter C. Towne, Morris, CT
  • Cpl William W. Nickerson, Sarasota, FL
  • LCpl James R. Brooks, Anderson, SC
  • LCpl James P. Dewitt, Fruita, CO
  • LCpl Eddie L. Landry, Gonzales, LA (Silver Star)
  • LCpl Joe C. Paul, Dayton, OH, DoW 08/19/65 (Medal of Honor)
  • LCpl Mitchell C. Short, Canoga Park, CA
  • LCpl Kenneth D. Stankiewicz, Buffalo, NY (Silver Star)
  • Pfc Bruce J. Henrich, Detroit, MI
  • Pfc Henry C. Jordan, New York, NY
  • Pfc Harry L. Kaus, Dunkirk, NY (Silver Star)
  • Pfc James H. Sawyer, Morgantown, WV
  • Pfc John B. Tette, Rochester, NY

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009