The President of the United States, takes pride in presenting the
NAVY CROSS posthumously to:


for service as set forth in the following:


For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Platoon Right Guide of the Third Platoon, Company F, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, in the Republic of Vietnam on 16 March 1967. During Operation DE SOTO in Quang Ngai Province, Company F, was conducting a search and destroy mission when the rear elements of the company were taken under intense 50-caliber machine gun and automatic weapons fire froma an estimated hard-core Viet Cong battalion. One half of the Second Platoon was pinned down in an open rice paddy and all attempts to relieves the pressure on the beleaguered Marines had proven futile. Sergeant (then Corporal) Mendez, unhesitatingly volunteered to lead a squad into the face of the devestating and extremely accurate machine gun fire to assist the pinned-down Marines in returning to friendly lines with their two dead and two seriously wounded. The Viet Cong fire increased to a fever pitch as Sergeant Mendez calmly and courageously moved out onto a paddy dike, completely exposed to the intense fire, and commenced firing his M-79 at the enemy positions with deadly accuracy. He fired round after round as he stood, bravely defying the enemy, to give covering fire to his comrades. Sixty meters across the rice paddy from Sergeant Mendez, his Platoon Commander was seriously wounded and he fell, unable to move. Immediately Sergeant Mendez raced through the hail of bullets to his Platoon Commander's side. Shielding him with his body as he applied a dresssing to the wound, he picked up the Lieutanant and started to carry him to friendly lines, which were more than seventy- five meters away. Exhibiting exceptional courage he moved toward the lines as the Viet Cong attempted to his this double target. Twenty meters short of his goal, he was hit in the shoulder and two of his comrades ran out to assist him. Even though painfully wounded, Sergeant Mendez chose to be the rear man, refusing to relinquish his hold on his Liewtenant's legs as they carried him toward the hedgerow. He was shielding his Lieutanant with his own body when he was mortally wounded. By his dauntless courage, initiative and selfless efforts in behalf of another, Sergeant Mendez saved his platoon commander's life and upheld the highest traditons of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

For the President,

Secretary of the Navy