The SECRETARY OF THE NAVY WASHINGTON
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS
LIEUTENANT (JUNIOR GRADE) JOHN WILLIAM THORNTON
UNITED STATES NAVY
For service as set forth in the following
“As pilot of a helicopter … in action against enemy aggressor forces near Wonsan, Korea, on 31 March 1951 . . . Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Thornton volunteered for the dangerous mission of rescuing a key intelligence unit trapped on a high ridge behind enemy lines. First to arrive at the scene, he daringly attempted a landing on a small clearing atop the ridge and, although his craft was wrecked during this intricate operation, quickly extricated himself and repared to direct other helicopters as they arrived to rescue the marooned personnel. Undaunted by the hail of small arms fire from the fast converging hostile forces, he gallantly refused to be evacuated and continued to direct the hovering helicopters as they hoisted three men into their aircraft and departed.
After requesting one of the rescue pilots to return to the area with guns and ammunition, he was last seen firing his rifle at the enemy besiegers. By his exceptional resourcefulness, he was directly responsible for the safe evacuation of three men possessing vital intelligence. His outstanding courage, valiant fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Thornton and the United States Naval Service.”
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