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The Medal of Honor Remarks on Presenting the Award to Cpl. Anthony Casamento.

September 12, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. Secretary Hidalgo, General Barrow, Mr. Anthony Casamento, beloved members of the Casamento family:

This is indeed a pleasure and an honor for me, as President of our Nation and as Commander in Chief of the military forces of the United States of America. On August 19th, 1940, more than a year before Pearl Harbor, Anthony Casamento enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. By volunteering for service in the Marines, he proved himself to be a patriot. Two years later in the jungles of Guadalcanal, he proved himself to be a hero as well.

The deed which Anthony Casamento performed is the kind that makes legends. Because of men like him, the name of Guadalcanal has taken its place alongside the other great battles of history in the annals of military valor. On November 1st, 1942, in the course of an American attack, Corporal Casamento led his section to a ridge top position, then during a series of fierce Japanese counterassaults, Corporal Casamento held firm. He fought on until all of his comrades had either been killed or were too seriously wounded to help. He fought on after he himself had been wounded, again and again. Manning a machine gun, he held out until reinforcements could reach him. He lost consciousness. He had protected more than his own position; he had secured the vulnerable flanks of the companies below his ridge, and in so doing, he made possible the success of the American attack.

Corporal Casamento went beyond the struggle of most fighting men to survive. He went beyond the call of duty. He heard the call of his country and the honor of the Marine Corps and he fought on. By the time he was found, unconscious, by his fellow Marines, Corporal Casamento had been wounded 14 times. Since that day, for 38 years, he has carried the disability of those wounds as courageously and indomitably as he faced the enemy in 1942.

Today, the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States draw strength from the same tradition and the same degree of sacrifice and service—always potential for them—which was personified and is personified by Anthony Casamento. While less dramatic, the sacrifices they make are just as important to the security and to the liberty of our Nation. The kind of determination that Anthony Casamento has shown is what all of us need if we are to win the things for which we struggle—human rights for all, peace for our country and throughout the world. His valor reminds us of our Nation's reserves of determination and strength and courage, and his sufferings remind us of the horrors of war.

War is a terrible thing, wasting the young, destroying much that is timeless and beautiful and irreplaceable; yet it is our solemn duty to be prepared for war, because that preparation is essential to the prevention of war.

In World War II, when men like Anthony Casamento performed great acts, our soldiers fought for freedom for all people. Today, we're not in the trenches or the jungles of physical combat, and we thank God for it, but we're still fighting. We fight for those things for which American veterans have always fought. We are using peace to fight for peace. We are using our own human rights to gain human rights for others, and we're using the strength that created this country to make this country stronger still

This recognition of Anthony Casamento has been a long time coming, but heroism such as his is never diminished by the passage of time. He has the gratitude of a nation to which he will always be an example and an inspiration. I'd like to ask now the Secretary of the Navy to read the citation for this heroic man, who has brought great credit to our Nation, gratitude from us, and admiration from all.

[At this point, Secretary of the Navy Edward Hidalgo read the citation, the text of which follows:

The President of the United States in the name of the Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to CORPORAL ANTHONY CASAMENTO UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company "D," First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division on Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands, in action against the enemy Japanese forces on 1 November 1942. Serving as a leader of a machine gun section, Corporal Casamento directed his unit to advance along a ridge near the Matanikau River where they engaged the enemy. He positioned his section to provide covering fire for two flanking units and to provide direct support for the main force of his company which was behind him. During the course of this engagement, all members of his section were either killed or severely wounded and he himself suffered multiple, grievous wounds. Nonetheless, Corporal Casamento continued to provide critical supporting fire for the attack and in defense of his position. Following the loss of all effective personnel, he set up, loaded, and manned his unit's machine gun, tenaciously holding the enemy forces at bay. Corporal Casamento single-handedly engaged and destroyed one machine gun emplacement to his front and took under fire the other replacement on the flank. Despite the heat and ferocity of the engagement, he continued to man his weapon and repeatedly repulsed multiple assaults by the enemy forces, thereby protecting the flanks of the adjoining companies and holding his position until the arrival of his main attacking force. Corporal Casamento's courageous fighting spirit, heroic conduct, and unwavering dedication to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


Note: The President spoke at 2:31 p.m. at the ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening remarks he referred to Gen. Robert H. Barrow, Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Jimmy Carter, The Medal of Honor Remarks on Presenting the Award to Cpl. Anthony Casamento. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250913

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