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Ernest C. Cheatham , Jr.

Date of birth: July 27, 1929
Place of Birth: California, Long Beach
Home of record: Long Beach California

Ernest Cheatham graduated from Loyola University in 1952, prior to entering military service. During a brief period of inactive duty from June 1954 to March 1955, he was a member of the Baltimore Colts professional football team. He retired as a Marine Corps Lieutenant General.

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

Navy Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Colonel [then Lieutenant Colonel] Ernest C. Cheatham, Jr. (MCSN: 0-58120), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in the Republic of Vietnam from 3 February to 3 March 1968. During Operation Hue City, Colonel Cheatham led his battalion in extremely heavy house-to-house fighting against a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force. Advancing through the city on 4 February to assault the well-fortified Treasury Building/Post Office complex, his unit came under intense fire from concealed enemy positions. The enemy resistance halted the Marines' advance during two days of bitter fighting. Nevertheless, Colonel Cheatham remained steadfast in his determination to secure the enemy stronghold. Skillfully deploying a 106-mm. recoilless rifle squad into advantageous firing positions, he personally pinpointed the targets with M-16 tracer rounds and directed accurate fire on the enemy, which significantly reduced the pressure on his assaulting force. Completely disregarding his own safety, he joined the assaulting unit and aggressively led his men in routing the North Vietnamese from their entrenched positions. While proceeding through the city on 6 February, he organized his battalion for an assault on the enemy-held Provincial Headquarters Building. Ignoring the hostile fire all around him, he directed his men to covered positions while he fearlessly advanced to an exposed position from which he could locate the sources of enemy fire. Calling an Ontos forward, he directed effective suppressive fire on the enemy and then courageously led his unit as it continued the assault. Colonel Cheatham's dynamic and heroic leadership and his unflagging example inspired all who observed him and contributed greatly to the defeat of the enemy and to their subsequent withdrawal from the city. His dauntless courage and unfaltering devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals

Action Date: February 3 - March 3, 1968

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 2d Battalion

Regiment: 5th Marines

Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.) FMF

Navy Distinguished Service Medal

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Awarded for actions during the Peace Time Awards

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant General Ernest C. Cheatham, Jr. (MCSN: 0-58120), United States Marine Corps, was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a position of great responsibility to the Government of the United States.

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Lieutenant General

Defense Superior Service Medal

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Awarded for actions during the Peace Time Awards

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant General Ernest C. Cheatham, Jr. (MCSN: 0-58120), United States Marine Corps, was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal for exceptionally superior service to the Defense Department of the United States.

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Lieutenant General

Legion of Merit

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Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Colonel Ernest C. Cheatham, Jr. (MCSN: 0-58120), United States Marine Corps, was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in the Republic of Vietnam. (Colonel Cheatham is authorized to wear the Combat "V".)

Action Date: Vietnam War

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Colonel

Company: Commanding Officer

Battalion: 2d Battalion

Regiment: 5th Marines

Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.) FMF