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Mulvihill is a retired Marine staff sergeant working as the safety specialist with 7th Marine Regiment. He is a Vietnam War veteran who earned a silver star during a battle that made him and his company known as the most highly decorated small unit in the history of the military.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock

What I’ve Learned: Daniel Mulvihill

18 Apr 2014 | Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock

Mulvihill is a retired Marine staff sergeant working as the safety specialist with 7th Marine Regiment. He is a Vietnam War veteran who earned a silver star during a battle that made him and his company known as the most highly decorated small unit in the history of the military.

• My neighborhood in Chicago wasn’t the best place to be, even back in the 1950s. I joined the Marine Corps in June of 1964 because I knew it would benefit me to get out of Chicago. At the time, the Marine Corps was a safer place to be than inner-city Chicago.

• I signed up and became a radio operator. It was funny because I finished basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, and then moved a few buildings down for communications school.

• My first unit was 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. It was a scary thought at first. I wanted to be a grunt, but not a super grunt.

• In 1965, we found out we were heading to Vietnam. Pretty much the whole 1st Marine Division was packing up and heading to Vietnam at the time. I remember it was close to 25 ships that picked us all up in Long Beach, Calif., and shipped us off.

• I had only done three or four patrols before me and my guys ended up in the battle for our lives. 18 of us went in, 12 of us survived. Our platoon sergeant, Jimmie Howard, received the Medal of Honor, four of our guys received Navy Crosses, and 13 of us received Silver Stars.

• One of our guys ended up writing a book on the battle called Hill 488. It was interesting for me to read because everyone has a different perspective on combat. Everyone sees it in a different way.

• I tried to live my life after that in honor of the ones that didn’t make it out with us. I always felt guilty that I survived and they didn’t. I have learned to live with it, and have tried my best to be a respectable person.

• In 1968, I ended up getting out of the Marine Corps and pursuing a career. After doing that for about 15 years, I was 38 years old when I decided I wanted to get back into the Marine Corps.

• Me and my wife used to joke about me getting back into the Marine Corps, but I never really thought it would happen. I got around to talking to a recruiter and I ended up back in the Marine Corps as a 38-year-old lance corporal.

• A lot had changed in the 17 years I was out, but a lot was the same as well. The second time around I ended up getting into recruiting and was able to work out of Chicago.

• I enjoyed recruiting. I was recruiting all kinds of different people including my own son.

• After recruiting for many years, I wanted to get back to the fleet. When I got back, I was with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and it wasn’t long before I realized my age was catching up with me. I was undergoing knee and shoulder surgery, and ended up transferring and becoming the Marine Liaison at the Naval Hospital on base.

• While I was there I did several different things. My most memorable was working deceased affairs. It was a great honor for me to put Marines back in their uniform for their last trip home after paying the ultimate sacrifice.

• I ended up retiring from the Marine Corps and continued working at the Naval Hospital as a Department of Defense employee.

• In 2005 my family was hit pretty hard with a tragedy. My only son was killed in a vehicle accident on Interstate 15. He was rear-ended by a woman who was speeding and not paying attention.

• After that incident I couldn’t work around dead bodies at the hospital anymore, so I ended up filling the safety position with 7th Marine Regiment.

• During that time, my wife Kathleen was my rock. She has always supported me being a Marine, and gives back to the Marines herself working at the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital.

• What happened to my son has greatly impacted my passion and reasoning for getting into safety. I try extremely hard to express to these Marines and sailors here the importance of safety. If I can get at least one Marine to turn the cellphone off when he is driving, or get Marines to have a plan when they are going out, I feel like I’m making a difference.

• I get teased a lot about my age and get the question, ‘Are you going to retire?’ a lot. To me, it reverts back to Vietnam. I survived that, and I owe it to Marines who didn’t. I would rather be here doing my best to stress the importance of safety to these Marines, than be home sitting around.

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