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SD official to be awarded medal for Vietnam service

Joe Cordileone

Joe Cordileone, a chief deputy in the San Diego city attorney's office, will receive the Marine Corp Silver Star for his bravery during combat in the Vietnam War.

The Bronze Star will be given to Robert Moffatt, of the same unit, also for actions during the first Battle of Khe Sanh on April 30, 1967.

The two men will be honored at the Marine Corp Awards Ceremony 7:45 a.m. Friday at the Marine Corp Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus had planned to present the medals, but Marine Corps officials released a statement Tuesday saying Mabus would not attend because of Monday's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 people dead.

Cordileone, then a private first class, saved fellow Marines while under direct fire and was wounded in the process.

Although the battle was recorded as one of the worst of the Vietnam War, very few men in the unit were recommended for awards at the time.

However, more than 40 years later, John Admire, a former platoon commander who was transferred shortly before the battle, met up with men from his old unit at a reunion. As he listened to their reports, he couldn’t understand why so few had been recommended for awards.

It was then he learned that those in a position to recommend awards had been killed. Admire began interviewing the survivors.

Because he had been their platoon commander, Admire was permitted to recommend the Marines for awards. He presented the Marine Corps with affidavits from the survivors describing which of their fellow Marines deserved recognition.

“We are honored to have one of our own deputies receive this award for gallantry in action,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. “Chief Deputy Cordileone truly exemplifies extraordinary heroism along with the men and women that risk their lives for our country."

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