TFH 1/3: Gunnery Sergeant Joseph F. Covella, USMC

Joseph Francis Covella was born on October 17, 1928 and hailed from Brooklyn, New York. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1947 and fought during the Korean War with the 1st Marine Division‘s 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. He received the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry in action on September 20, 1951.

Covella remained in the Marines into the 1960s and was sent to Vietnam in 1965 as an advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). His specialty was weapons instruction, and he was assigned to South Vietnam’s 1st Infantry Divsion in the 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment. Our brave men and women in uniform, when serving with allied units as advisors, are held to the same standards of conduct and expected behavior in the face of an enemy as if they were with our own forces.

On January 3, 1966, then Gunnery Sergeant Covella volunteered to remain with a rear guard to cover the withdrawal of the Vietnamese infantry company he was with as they were in danger of being overwhelmed by the enemy and was forced to withdraw. He remained behind with the wounded providing covering fires as those who could escape did so. His “extraordinary heroism” cost him his life, and he was posthumously decorated with the second-highest award he could have received: the Navy Cross.

From Military Times’ Hall of Valor:

cheapest pharmacy to buy finasteride The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Francis Covella (MCSN: 1001220), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Light Weapons Infantry Advisor, Third Battalion, First Regiment, First Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam, on 3 January 1966. Sergeant Covella was accompanying the First Company of his Battalion when that unit came under scorching fire from their front, pinning them in a ditch while the numerically superior enemy force continued to rain murderous fire upon them. When the order to withdraw was given, one platoon was instructed to remain in position to provide covering fire, and Sergeant Covella, with no regard for his personal safety, volunteered to remain with the platoon. The remainder of the company made an orderly withdrawal and the platoon was told to evacuate. As soon as the order was implemented, three Vietnamese soldiers and one American advisor were wounded. Realizing that without covering fire his platoon would be destroyed, Sergeant Covella stayed with the wounded to aid them and cover the retreat in the face of a merciless enemy advance. He was able to halt the enemy long enough for his platoon to escape from the trap. His battalion found him later with the men he had tried to protect. By his personal bravery, consummate courage and willing self-sacrifice for his comrades, Sergeant Covella reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Gunnery Sergeant Covella also received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device for his entire time as an advisor to the South Vietnamese:

buy Pregabalin 300 mg online The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” (Posthumously) to Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Francis Covella (MCSN: 1001220), United States Marine Corps, for meritorious serving during operations against an armed enemy while serving as Heavy Weapons Infantry Advisor, Third Battalion, First Regiment, First Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam, from 15 September 1965 to 3 January 1966. Sergeant Covella’s close relationship of mutual respect and friendship with all ranks extended to all members of the Battalion, enabling him to translate his professional knowledge and ability to effective advice, instruction and assistance. He soon became the advisor closest to the enlisted men of the Battalion, which enabled him to be a most effective advisor at troop level. His concern for the well being of the soldiers showed results in a self-help program which resulted in needed building repairs and improved living conditions. He always requested operational attachment to the most remote or independent sub-elements in order to increase the effective Advisor coverage of the operation. He participated in ten Battalion field operations and two separate company operations, in which he was a constant source of information and guidance. Sergeant Covella’s loyal devotion to duty, professional competence and personal integrity reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

And finally, here is his Silver Star citation for his heroism during the Korean War on September 20, 1951:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Sergeant Joseph Francis Covella (MCSN: 1001220), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as a Squad Leader of Company F, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea, on 20 September 1951. When a large enemy force succeeded in capturing high ground adjacent to and threatening the battalion sector, Sergeant Covella unhesitatingly volunteered to lead his squad in a counterattack to regain the vital terrain. Expertly briefing his men, he moved out in the attack and, courageously exposing himself to intense hostile small-arms and automatic-weapons fire, spearheaded the assault against successive enemy bunkers and emplacements, completely routing the numerically superior hostile force. When the objective had been captured, he remained in an exposed position, directing his men in the pursuit of the fleeing enemy and rapidly consolidating the critical ground. By his heroic initiative, inspiring leadership and unflagging devotion to duty in the face of heavy odds, Sergeant Covella contributed materially to the maintenance of the battalion’s integrity and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Joseph Francis Covella left behind a wife and five children. He had served in the Marines for 18 years at the time of his death. His remains rest in peace today among the United States’ most honored at Arlington National Cemetery (Section 37, Grave 4358) and his name appears on Panel 4E, Line 52 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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