Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation

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Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Company A, 3d Tank Battalion, 3d Marine Division (Rein.) FMF
Date of Action: May 8, 1967


The Navy Cross is presented to Charles D. Thatcher, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as a Tank Commander with Company A, Third Tank Battalion, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 8 May 1967. While operating in support of the First Battalion, Fourth Marines, Lance Corporal Thatcher's tank was hit and heavily damaged by enemy fire during a savage mortar and infantry attack on the battalion's positions at Gio Linh by a 400-man North Vietnamese Army force. During the initial enemy antitank rocket assault, two of his crewmen were killed and one wounded. Although painfully wounded in the back and neck, he courageously reentered the burning tank to remove the dead and wounded and administered first aid to the surviving crewman. For one hour, while awaiting reinforcements, he cared for his wounded companion while fighting off repeated enemy assaults. When he was assured that his comrade had been moved to a secure area, he resolutely returned to his tank and boldly engaged the North Vietnamese alone with his .30-caliber machine gun, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Having expended his machine gun ammunition, he left his disabled tank, retrieved a rifle from a dead infantryman, and continued to deliver a heavy volume of accurate fire on the enemy. Realizing that the infantrymen were dangerously low on small- arms ammunition, he completely disregarded his own safety to carry re-supplies to their fighting holes while under intense hostile fire. With three tanks disabled by the enemy fire, Lance Corporal Thatcher reacted instantly when he observed a North Vietnamese soldier about to fire a rocket at one of the operative tanks. Displaying bold initiative, he killed the enemy as he rushed the tank with his rocket launcher. Throughout the vicious fire fight, he repeatedly risked his own life to assist his wounded companions and provide continuous covering fire. His daring and heroic actions were instrumental in repulsing the North Vietnamese attack. Lance Corporal Thatcher's uncommon courage, inspiring leadership, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of enemy fire reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
 Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals