Col. Robert J. Modrzejewski

U.S. Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert J. Modrzejewski ret. speaks with guests about how he received the Medal of Honor at a room dedication ceremony at the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry West, Camp Pendleton, Calif, July 14, 2017.
The ceremony was held to dedicate a classroom, now called the Hall of Heroes, to the Medal of Honor recipients of the past and present. Colonel Robert J. Modrzejewski, a Medal of Honor recipient who retired from the Marine Corps in 1986, was the ceremony’s guest of honor. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Noah Rudash)

The School of Infantry-West honored Infantry Medal of Honor recipients during a dedication ceremony at the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, July 14.

The ceremony was held to dedicate a classroom, now called the Hall of Heroes, to the Medal of Honor recipients of the past and present.

Colonel Robert J. Modrzejewski, a Medal of Honor recipient who retired from the Marine Corps in 1986, was the ceremony’s guest of honor.

“To the School of Infantry, what you do here really is a terrific job,” said Modrzejewski. “Without schools such as this, or trainings such as this, we wouldn’t have the Marine Corps we have today, which is absolutely outstanding. If I could, I’d like to be back on active duty.”

Modrzejewski was commissioned a Marine Corps Reserve Second Lieutenant in June of 1957, then moved into the Active Duty Marine Corps in May of 1960.

Modrzejewski was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as Commanding Officer of Company K, Third battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marines, Third Marine Division during Operation Hastings in Vietnam.

On July 15, 1966, Modrzejewski and his Marines landed in an enemy infested jungle to establish a blocking position. Shortly after their landing, Modrzejewski led his Marines in the successful seizure of enemy ammunition and supplies. This was met with retaliation from numerically superior enemy forces and repeated attacks over the next two and a half days.

Modrzejewski was wounded during close-quarters combat on the second night, yet crawled over 200 meters while exposed to fire to provide ammunition to an exposed element of his command. Against overwhelming numbers, Modrzejewski stood by his men and successfully directed artillery fire within meters of his position, declaring victory over the enemy.

“Nobody wants to be a Medal of Honor recipient, because that’s a trying time,” said Gunnery Sgt. Louis Beltran III, Operations Chief, SOI-West. “But if they are, and they survive, then hopefully they’re there to tell the story, and we can honor them as well.”

The Advanced Infantry Training Battalion provides training that ensures Marines are proficient in advanced infantry skills, reconnaissance skills and Light Armored Vehicle operations in order to provide qualified infantry Marines to serve in the operating forces, enhancing the warfighting capabilities of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

Story by Lance Cpl. Keely Dyer