Belated Navy Cross Presentation to Vietnam Marine Veteran Ned Seath



SECNAV Mabus and Ned Seath
SECNAV Mabus and Ned Seath

The sun was shining brightly at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on February 11, 2011 as Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presented the Navy Cross and a Bronze Star for Valor to Vietnam Veteran, Marine Lance Corporal Ned E. Seath of Reed City, Michigan.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of fellow Marines, Bill Hutton, Dave Richwine and other members of K Company, 3d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Seath was recognized for his extraordinary heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam on 15 and 16 July 1966, almost 45 years after the fact. According to Richwine, a retired Major General and Seath’s Platoon Leader at the time, “The fog of war and friction of the battlefield kept Ned Seath from being recognized on the spot.”

He went on to say, however, that “the four “F’s” of faith, fellowship, friendship, and focus were the reasons that Ned was finally receiving his due reward.

Second only to the Medal of Honor, The Navy Cross is the highest medal that can be awarded by the U.S. Navy for valor. The citation reads “The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to Lance Corporal Ned E. Seath, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Machine Gun Team Leader with Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on 16 July 1966.

K Co Marines: (L-R) Dan Corcoran, Bill Hutton, Secretary Mabus, Ned Seath, Russell Barber , Stan Beach, Denis Thune, Dave Richwine, Ted Hopgood
K Co Marines: (L-R) Dan Corcoran, Bill Hutton, Secretary Mabus, Ned Seath, Russell Barber , Stan Beach, Denis Thune, Dave Richwine, Ted Hopgood

“In support of Operation HASTINGS, Company K was positioned in the middle of an enemy infested jungle to establish a blocking position at a major enemy trail network. Shortly after landing, the Company encountered a reinforced enemy platoon in a well-organized defensive position. In a portion of the perimeter adjacent to Lance Corporal Seath, a machine gunner was wounded and his weapon disabled by enemy fire.

Recognizing the importance of stopping the enemy, Lance Corporal Seath moved quickly through withering automatic weapons fire to extract the inoperative machine gun.

Working in pitch darkness with only the occasional flickering illumination from aircraft dropped flares above and suffering a leg and hand wound from mortar fire, Lance Corporal Seath expertly crafted an operational M-60 machine gun from the pieces of two disabled weapons. Immediately and with devastating effects, he directed deadly, accurate fire at the onrushing enemy.

Heedless of his painful wounds, as his field of fire in the prone position became partially obscured by enemy casualties, Lance Corporal Seath stood up, fully exposed to the enemy’s assault. By his bold leadership, undaunted courage and complete dedication to duty, Lance Corporal Seath reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. “

MOPH Delegation to Seath Ceremony
MOPH Delegation to Seath Ceremony

In a moving testimonial luncheon following the ceremony¸ hosted by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, MOPH Senior Vice Commander Bill Hutton told the full story of why he and his fellow Marines felt so strongly that Seath’s courageous actions could not be allowed to go unrewarded.

Over a 6 year period, Hutton collected eye witness statements, gained the support of two Medal of Honor recipients, and overcame the reluctance of U.S. Navy officials to review a case that had taken place so long ago; for Hutton, it became a personal crusade.

As Hutton explained earlier, “had it not been for Ned, I would be laying under a headstone at Arlington with the inscription. ‘William R. Hutton, born 5 July 1947, KIA Vietnam, 16 July 1966.” Also attending the ceremony and luncheon was Seath’s family, including wife Sue Eggenberger, daughters Angie Bare and Melissa Seath, and son Ben Eggenberger.

Ned Seath and MOPH SVP Bill Hutton
Ned Seath and MOPH SVP Bill Hutton

The organization now known as the “Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.,” (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America’s military history. Most importantly, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance.

Through the VAVS Program, MOPH volunteers provide assistance to hospitalized veterans at VA sites and State Veterans’ Homes.


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