Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Private First Class Oscar P. Austin


USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79)

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) underway in the Persian Gulf. Oscar Austin and Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Two were underway on a regularly scheduled deployment conducting maritime security operations. The ship is named in honor of Private First Class Oscar P. Austin, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the Vietnam War. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Randall Damm. 


Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) proudly bears the name of U.S. Marine Private First Class Oscar P. Austin, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism during the Vietnam War in February 1969. 

Austin was born 15 January 1948, in Nacogdoches, Texas. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and graduated from Phoenix Union High School in 1967. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in April 1968, and upon graduation from basic infantry training was promoted to private first class on 1 October 1968. Later that month, he was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as an ammunitions man with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Division.


PFC Oscar P. Austin

Marine Private First Class Oscar P. Austin. Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps History Division. 

On the morning of 23 February 1969, Austin’s observation post came under a fierce ground attack by a large North Vietnamese Army force using a heavy volume of hand grenades, satchel charges, and small arms fire. After observing a wounded Marine had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to hostile fire, Austin left the security of his foxhole and, with complete disregard for his own personal safety, ran across the fire-swept battlefield to move the unconscious Marine to a safe location. As he neared the casualty, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Without hesitation, Austin leaped between the casualty and the grenade absorbing the detonation. Badly wounded, Austin turned to examine the Marine, and when he did, saw a North Vietnamese Army solider aiming his weapon at the unconscious Marine. With full knowledge of the consequences and thinking only of his fellow Marine, Austin threw himself between the casualty and the enemy fire. In doing so, he gallantly gave his life for his country. 

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Austin received the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. 

***** 

Sources

Marine Corps University: Private First Class Oscar P. Austin, USMC (Deceased).

https://usmcu.usmc.afpims.mil/Research/Marine-Corps-History-Division/Information-for-Units/Medal-of-Honor-Recipients-By-Unit/PFC-Oscar-P-Austin/ Retrieved 14 January 2020. 

United States Navy: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Private First Class Oscar P. Austin. https://www.public.navy.mil/surflant/ddg79/Pages/Namesake.aspx Retrieved 14 January 2020. 

USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79)

  • The first U.S. Navy ship named Oscar Austin
  • Laid down: 9 October 1997 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works
  • Launched: 7 November 1998
  • Commissioned: 19 August 2000 at Norfolk, Virginia
  • Sponsor: Dianne F. Reason, spouse of Admiral J. Paul Reason

Additional Resources

Published: Wed Jan 22 09:28:01 EST 2020