Marine killed in Vietnam to be awarded Silver Star

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A Marine lieutenant who made the ultimate sacrifice more than 50 years ago in Vietnam will be awarded the silver star Tuesday.

First Lt. Philip Sauer gave his life so others could escape an ambush.

“My brother just got up and said run for it, retreat, retreat, retreat,” said Tom Sauer, Philip Sauer’s brother, who lives in La Jolla.

Philip Sauer’s story is one his brother and just a few others knew. It was April 24, 1967, when Sauer and four others walked into a bamboo thicket and were ambushed by about 30 enemies.

Sauer and one other jumped into a foxhole. Sauer used his sidearm to hold them off long enough for others to get away.

One Marine survived.

"I really think he would think he was doing what any marine would do,” Tom Sauer said. “It was what he was trained to do and he just did what he thought was his job.”

But 50 years later, Lt. Philip Sauer will be awarded the Silver Star, the Armed Forces' third-highest honor.

Tom Sauer told retired Lt. Col. David Little about his brother’s heroics. Little then spent the next two years working through federal bureaucracy to get Lt. Sauer the credit he deserved.

“He was just concerned and believed off the bat that my brother was entitled to an honor of some sort,” Tom Sauer said.

The ceremony will take place Tuesday morning at Camp Pendleton. Sauer's brothers and sister will be there, as will Bill Marks, the one Marine who survived that ambush 50 years ago.

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