For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving
as Commanding Officer of the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines,
First Marine Division in connection with operations against
the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam.
Operation Union, Lieutenant Colonel ESSLINGER repeatedly exhibited
exceptional leadership and professionalism in leading his men
against North Vietnamese Army forces.
21 April 1967, he led his battalion in a helicopter force assault
mission to reinforce Company F of the Second Battalion, First
Marines which was heavily engaged with a numerically superior
enemy force. Locating his command post in a forward position
in order to better control and direct his companies, he reacted
instantly to the critical situation, moving to join the companies
most heavily engaged with the enemy.
intensive enemy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire,
he initiated an aggressive assault on the fortified enemy positions,
repeatedly exposing himself to hostile fire to pinpoint the
Viet Cong positions and to encourage his men in maintaining
the momentum of the attack.
wounded on 28 April, Lieutenant Colonel ESSLINGER refused medical
evacuation and, undaunted by the heavy volume of enemy fire,
courageously continued to lead his battalion, soundly defeating
the enemy at each encounter.
on 13 and 14 May when heavy contact was made with a reinforced
North Vietnamese Army battalion concealed in a fortified complex,
he demonstrated outstanding knowledge of military tactics as
he skillfully employed his battalion and personally directed
and coordinated artillery, naval gunfire and close air support.
26 May while his battalion was heavily engaged with a numerically
superior enemy force, Lieutenant Colonel ESSLINGER was seriously
wounded in the head but again refused medical aid in order to
continue in battle. With complete disregard for his own safety
and welfare, he moved from one position to another to direct
and encourage his men.
unable to stand because of his extremely painful head wound,
he selflessly continued to direct his unit’s operation
until the regimental commander ordered his medical evacuation.
In large part due to his expertly conceived and skillfully directed
operations, his battalion accounted for 420 enemy soldiers confirmed
killed and destroyed numerous enemy emplacements and caves.
Throughout, his manner and method of command instilled confidence
and resolute determination which inspired his men to their utmost
his exceptional leadership, aggressive fighting spirit and loyal
devotion to duty, Lieutenant Colonel ESSLINGER contributed significantly
to the accomplishment of his unit’s mission and upheld
the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United
States Naval Service.