Private First Class Oscar P. Austin
Bath Iron Work's first FLIGHT II ARLEIGH BURKE Class AEGIS Destroyer proudly bears the name of Private First Class Oscar P. Austin, United States Marine Corps. Displaying indomitable courage and selfless devotion to duty. PFC Austin was killed near DaNang, Vietnam in February 1969 when he sacrificed his own life to save an injured companion. He has been recognized with numerous medals and decorations, including the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Oscar Austin was born January 15, 1948, In Nacogdoches, Texas and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated from Phoenix Union High School in 1967, and enlisted in the United Stated Marine Corps in April the following year. Upon completion of Basic Training, Austin was promoted to Private First Class in October 1968. He was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as an assistant machine gunner with Company E, Second Battalion, Seventh Marine, First Division(Rein), and FMF. During the early morning hours on February 23, 1969, PFC Austin's observation post came under a fierce ground attack by a large North Vietnamese Army force using a heavy volume of hand grenades, satchel charges and small arms fire.
Observing that one of his wounded companions had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to hostile fire, Austin unhesitatingly left the relative security of his fighting hole and, with complete disregard for his own safety, raced across the fire swept terrain to drag the marine to safety. As he neared his companion, he observed an enemy grenade land nearby. Leaping between the grenade and the injured marine, Austin took the full force of the explosion himself. Although he was badly injured, Austin turned to help his fallen companion and saw a North Vietnamese soldier aiming a weapon at the unconscious man.
With full knowledge of the probable consequences, Austin threw himself between the injured marine and the hostile soldier. In doing so, he was mortally wounded. It is fitting that the first Flight IIA AEGIS Destroyer is named for PFC Oscar Austin, a soldier whose courage and gallantry in the face of certain death exemplified the highest standards of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy.