L/Cpl Merritt Thomas Cousins

For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Radio Operator with Battery B,First Battalion, Twelfth Marines, Third Marine Divsion ( Reinforced ) attached to Company F,
Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division ( Reinforced ) in the Republic of
Vietnam on 8 July 1967.

Lance Corporal Cousins, serving with a Forward Observer Team, was
engaged in a search and clear operation in Cam Lo District, southwest of Con Thien.
Enroute to their objective, the second squad was taken under heavy small-arms and automatic weapons fire by a numerically superior enemy force. The third squad, to which Lance Corporal Cousins was attached, immediately proceeded to assist them. Before contact was made with the second squad, the third squad was taken under heavy automatic weapons fire and a devastating mortar attack by an estimated reinforced North Vietnamese Army unit.

In the initial moments of the battle he was wounded by shrapnel, and he and four comrades were cut off forward of their unit and completely surrounded by the enemy. Despite his painful wounds. he called in artillery and advised the command post of their situation. He called artillery in so close that shrapnel was hitting their position. As the artillery fire rocked the enemy position, they made an assault toward the Marine perimeter. Hand-to-hand combat ensued and Lance Corporal Cousins was wounded a second time.

Disregarding his painful wounds, and aware of the desperate need for artillery fire and the needs of fellow Marines, he refused to leave his radio and continued to adjust artillery fire upon the enemy and relay their situation until he succumbed to his wounds with his radio handset in his hands. By his bold initiative, gallant fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty, he was instrumental in repulsing a large scale attack and saving the lives of the beleagured Marines, reflecting great credit upon himself and the United StatesMarineCorps and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Servi ce. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

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