Lt Frank S Reasoner, USMC (1937 - 1965)

Posted: Monday, July 12, 2010 by Travis Cody in

On 12 July 1965, Lt Frank S Reasoner became the first US Marine in Vietnam who's actions would earn him the Medal of Honor.  Regrettably, he was killed during the fighting at Da Nang.

Reasoner was born in Spokane WA.  He joined the Corps just before his 18th birthday, eventually reaching the enlisted rank of Sergeant.  In 1958 he was transferred to the Reserves and enrolled at West Point.  He completed his education at the Academy and accepted a commission as a 2nd Lt in the Marine Corps.  A year later he was promoted to 1st Lt and completed Officers Basic School.

Lt Reasoner was stationed at Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii with 1st Marine Brigade, where he was assigned to B Company, 3rd Recon, 4th Marines.  When the battalion deployed to Vietnam in June 1965, he was CO of A Company, 3rd Recon, 3rd Marine Division.

Lt Reasoner's citation follows:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. The reconnaissance patrol led by 1st Lt. Reasoner had deeply penetrated heavily controlled enemy territory when it came under extremely heavy fire from an estimated 50 to 100 Viet Cong insurgents. Accompanying the advance party and the point that consisted of 5 men, he immediately deployed his men for an assault after the Viet Cong had opened fire from numerous concealed positions. Boldly shouting encouragement, and virtually isolated from the main body, he organized a base of fire for an assault on the enemy positions. The slashing fury of the Viet Cong machine gun and automatic weapons fire made it impossible for the main body to move forward. Repeatedly exposing himself to the devastating attack he skillfully provided covering fire, killing at least 2 Viet Cong and effectively silencing an automatic weapons position in a valiant attempt to effect evacuation of a wounded man. As casualties began to mount his radio operator was wounded and 1st Lt. Reasoner immediately moved to his side and tended his wounds. When the radio operator was hit a second time while attempting to reach a covered position, 1st Lt. Reasoner courageously running to his aid through the grazing machine gun fire fell mortally wounded. His indomitable fighting spirit, valiant leadership and unflinching devotion to duty provided the inspiration that was to enable the patrol to complete its mission without further casualties. In the face of almost certain death he gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. His actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service."

Lt Reasoner is one of five 3rd Recon Battalion Marines to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam.


  1. great post Travis. I lived in Spokane for many, many years. Great country.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Nice tribute Trav. Shame he didn't get to receive the honour personally. :(

  1. Anonymous says:

    Trav: Thanks for the post - and the reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that so many made.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing the Lt's story. Like gram said, it's a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice so many make.


  1. Travis, this is such a sad post that I wept. So many died for our country during that war. I was ashamed of how they were treated when they finally came home.

    It is the foot soldiers that suffered greatly and gave so much.

    My husband was a B-52 pilot in 1974

  1. It's good to hear about such heroes on occassion. Maybe it would be good to hear it every day, and think on it. great post.

  1. Once again...history is fantastic here at Trav's

  1. Jamie says:

    Excellent commemoration for today's date. A MoH winner who lived to receive his said that it wasn't his. It belonged to all the men who lived and died with equal or greater heroics but whose deeds were unseen and he wore it in their honor.

  1. Reeeeeeeeecoooooooooon!

    Well done, Marine.

    I hope he got his just rewards for doing an incredible job here on earth. I'm sure there are many Marines and their children who owe their very existence to his bravery.

  1. You know, Travis, there is a part of me very close to the surface that bursts out crying whenever the mention is made of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A part of me always feels so very deeply for all of the warriors throughout time who fell on the battlefield, wherever that happened to be. For so many, that moment in time is only between themselves and their Creator.

    I really appreciate and enjoy reading about these moments, sad as they are. Every time we can hear about them, those moments bring that soldier back to life so we can be with him.