Corporal, Company F, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, U.S. Marine Corps. Awarded for actions at Hill 749, Korea.
September 16, 1951
Corporal Joseph Vittori was born August 1, 1929 in Beverly, MA. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on October 4, 1946, and served three years, in part on the USS Portsmouth and with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, before returning home.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in September 1950 and arrived in Korea in January 1951, where he joined Company F, 2nd Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced) to participate in the South and Central Korean campaign. He was promoted to corporal and received two Purple Hearts, the first when wounded near Yanggu. After a week working as a property sergeant, he asked to rejoin his old unit.
He was killed in action two months later on September 16, 1951, during the vicious Battle of the Punchbowl at Hill 749.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an automatic-rifleman in Company F, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With a forward platoon suffering heavy casualties and forced to withdraw under a vicious enemy counterattack as his company assaulted strong hostile forces entrenched on Hill 749, Cpl. Vittori boldly rushed through the withdrawing troops with 2 other volunteers from his reserve platoon and plunged directly into the midst of the enemy. Overwhelming them in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle, he enabled his company to consolidate its positions to meet further imminent onslaughts. Quick to respond to an urgent call for a rifleman to defend a heavy machine gun positioned on the extreme point of the northern flank and virtually isolated from the remainder of the unit when the enemy again struck in force during the night, he assumed position under the devastating barrage and, fighting a single-handed battle, leaped from 1 flank to the other, covering each foxhole in turn as casualties continued to mount manning a machine gun when the gunner was struck down and making repeated trips through the heaviest shellfire to replenish ammunition. With the situation becoming extremely critical, reinforcing units to the rear pinned down under the blistering attack and foxholes left practically void by dead and wounded for a distance of 100 yards, Cpl. Vittori continued his valiant stand, refusing to give ground as the enemy penetrated to within feet of his position, simulating strength in the line and denying the foe physical occupation of the ground. Mortally wounded by the enemy machine gun and rifle bullets while persisting in his magnificent defense of the sector where approximately 200 enemy dead were found the following morning, Cpl. Vittori, by his fortitude, stouthearted courage, and great personal valor, had kept the point position intact despite the tremendous odds and undoubtedly prevented the entire battalion position from collapsing. His extraordinary heroism throughout the furious nightlong battle reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.