SAN DIEGO - San Diego's chief deputy city attorney will soon be awarded the Silver Star Medal for his selflessness and courage during the Vietnam War.
"When I found out about it, I was literally speechless," said retired Marine, Pfc. Joe Cordileone. "I didn't know what to say."
He will soon be awarded the prestigious Silver Star Medal for his "selfless and courageous actions" during the Vietnam War, specifically during the battle of Khe Sanh on April 30, 1967.
"It was the worst day of my life," he told 10News. "I was 19 years old then and I had never even seen a dead person before that day and all of a sudden they were all around me."
In March of 2011, a letter of recommendation was written by retired Marine Maj. Gen. John Admire, who served as a platoon leader.
"I was extremely familiar with Pfc. Cordileone's actions and attitude in Vietnam and attest to his courage," wrote Admire. "Pfc. Cordileone acted above and beyond the call of duty."
“We didn't realize it at the time but we had walked into an ambush," said Cordileone.
Admire, in his written recommendation for Cordileone's Silver Star, described the battle of Khe Sanh as "brutal and violent" and that during the battle for Hill 881 South, Cordileone "sustained multiple fragmentation wounds..." and "initially refused medical treatment because he was committed to serving what he considered more seriously wounded Marines."
Admire wrote, "(Cordileone was)… a Marine on a mission to save his fellow Marines and he saved many Marines that day."
Cordileone said, "There were about 105 of us who went up the hill and of that 105, 50 were wounded and 27 were killed."
Several other recommendation letters were also written by those who served alongside Cordileone.
Comrade Tommy Wheeler summed Cordileone up well.
"[Joe] chose to save others first," Wheeler wrote. "Joe was and is an inspiration to those of us who served with him."
Cordileone will be awarded with the Silver Star Medal during a special ceremony at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in June.