Sergeant Major Canley, MoH recipient, dies aged 84

| May 13, 2022

After battling cancer for 10 years, retired US Marine Corps Sergeant Major John Canley has passed away. Canley received the Medal of Honor in 2018, fifty years after his heroics in 1968 Vietnam, for which he originally received the Navy Cross. Last year, the Navy named a new Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship after him. reports;

The Marine Corps announced Thursday the death of “Gunny” John L. Canley, a legendary warrior in Vietnam and Medal of Honor recipient who was held in awe by other Marine legends.

The 84-year-old Canley, who retired as a sergeant major in 1981, passed away Wednesday with his family at his bedside in Bend, Oregon, after a decade-long battle with cancer, the Marine Corps said in a press release.

He is survived by several siblings, three children, a stepson and two grandchildren. With his death, there are now 64 living recipients of the nation’s highest award for valor, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

“The most impressive combat Marine I ever knew,” retired Maj. Gen. Ray Smith, a Marine legend himself who earned the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, said of Canley in a 2018 interview with

As a lieutenant, Smith fought alongside Canley in the brutal 1968 Battle of Hue. Those who served with Canley “worshiped the ground the guy walked on,” Smith said. “All through my career, whenever I had to make a decision that would affect Marines, I’d always think, ‘What would Canley tell me to do?'”

Smith spoke after the announcement came down that then-President Donald Trump had signed a bill passed by Congress to waive the five-year limit on recommendations for the Medal of Honor and upgrade Canley’s Navy Cross to the Medal of Honor 50 years after the Battle of Hue.

“This honor is for all of the Marines with whom I served,” Canley said at the time in an interview with “The only thing I was doing was taking care of troops best I could. Do that, and everything else takes care of itself. They are an inspiration to me to this day.”

Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to Canley at a White House ceremony on Oct. 17, 2018, citing Canley’s undaunted courage and calm under fire during one of Vietnam’s bloodiest battles.

“John and his company of less than 150 Marines had pushed into the city held by at least 6,000 communist fighters,” Trump said. “In the days that followed, John led his company through the fog and rain and in house-to-house, very vicious, very hard combat.”

More at the source. Rest easy Marine. You’ve earned it ten fold.

Category: Marines, Medal of Honor, Valor, We Remember

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God grant him everlasting peace.

Old tanker

RIP Marine, you sure earned it.


Bless you, Sergeant Major.


A Marine’s Marine! “…Canley’s devotion to his troops…” Well said, the epitome of a leader of Warriors. No greater epitath could be inscribed upon a Head Stone. Well done Sar’Maj Canley, ye Good and Faithful Servant. I’m sure that you were met in Valhalla, with an unlimited supply of Frosty, Refreshing Beverages, by your Fellow Warriors. Enjoy your well deserved Rest in Peace, Good Sir. Damn shame it took so long to properly recognize your Heroism.

Green Thumb

Rest well, Sergeant Major.


The only thing I was doing was taking care of troops best I could. Do that, and everything else takes care of itself.

And that is true leadership.


one bmf… well sgt maj


Rest in peace good Sir.


Godspeed Sergeant Major. Rest easy.