Friday, July 18, 2003

Ohio Moments

Wellsville teenager was a hero in Vietnam

Melvin Earl Newlin enlisted in the Marine Corps in Cleveland on July 18, 1966. Within one year, his heroism under enemy fire would earn him the Medal of Honor - the nation's highest award for valor.

A native of Wellsville, Pfc. Newlin was sent to Vietnam in March 1967 to be a machine gunner with the 1st Marine Division. On July 3, he and four other Marines took mortar fire near Nong Son. His comrades were killed. Although wounded, Newlin propped himself against his machine gun and fired at the charging Viet Cong. Repeatedly hit by small-arms fire, he managed to repel two assaults on his position. During a third, a grenade knocked him unconscious.

Assuming he was dead, the guerrillas charged past toward the main Marine force. But Newlin came to, crawled to his gun and fired on their rear - inflicting heavy casualties and disrupting the charge.

Newlin died on the Fourth of July 1967. He was 19.

Rebecca Goodman

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