Lance Corporal Manuel A. Estrada

For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Squad Leader with Company A, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, Third Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam, on 24 and 25 August 1968. Lance Corporal Estrada and his eight-man reconnaissance team were helilifted into enemy controlled territory near Con Thien and were proceeding across an open rice paddy when the point man encountered twelve North Vietnamese Army soldiers followed by a force estimated to be battalion size. Reacting instantly, the point man fired his weapon and killed three of the enemy. While the surprised North Vietnamese unit recovered from its momentary confusion, Lance Corporal Estrada rapidly deployed his men and adjusted supporting arms fire which, in coordination with fire of his team, successfully held the determined North Vietnamese unit at bay. As a reaction force, sent to the relief of the beleaguered team, disembarked in a nearby landing zone, it was pinned down by a heavy volume of enemy mortar and automatic weapons fire and suffered several casualties. Skillfully shifting supporting artillery fire and the direction of his team's firepower, he enable the relief force to join his team, and when the officer leading the infantrymen was severely wounded, Lance Corporal Estrada unhesitatingly assumed command of the combined forces, although he had been seriously injured during the early moments of the engagement. With the arrival of helicopters containing further reinforcements, he boldly stood in the hazardous area and utilized a strobe light to guide the aircraft to a landing. Relieved by an officer accompanying the new unit, Lance Corporal Estrada, twice, steadfastly refused medical evacuation and, ignoring his painful injury, crawled from one position to another, distributing ammunition and water and encouraging the men in their efforts to contain the enemy assault. Resolutely remaining with his team, he assisted in repulsing repeated attacks until the reconnaissance team was extracted the following day. By his courage, resolute determination and unfaltering devotion to duty he upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.