Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
When PFC Austin’s observation post was spotted and overrun, his only instinct was to save his fellow Marines. Austin sacrificed his life to save another Marine from a deadly grenade, and then took a bullet for him. Because of his sacrifice, Austin was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Oscar Palmer Austin was born on January 15th, 1948 in Nacogdoches, Texas, but grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Austin deployed to South Vietnam with his battalion in 1968 at 20 years old. A year later on February 23rd, 1969, PFC Austin was occupying an observation post when he came under small arms and grenade fire from a North Vietnamese Army unit. Austin saw one of his fellow Marines wounded and unconscious in an exposed area, so he ran through fire to drag him to safety. When Austin reached his comrade, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Without hesitation, Austin dove on the grenade and absorbed the blast. Severely wounded but still conscious, he continued to try and save his fellow Marine. Austin saw an NVA soldier leveling his weapon towards his unconscious comrade, and dove in between them. The enemy soldier fired, mortally wounding Austin.
On April 20th, 1970, Austin was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his self sacrifice. The award was received by his family at the White House. His other awards include the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Service Medal with two Service stars, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. He is buried in the Greenwood/Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix.
In his honor, the U.S. Navy named a class of guided missile destroyers and a ship after him.
The Medal of Honor Podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our producer and engineer, León Pescador is our script writer, Declan Rohrs is our script editor and recording engineer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, got to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.