November 12, 1945 (Norwalk, CT) – January 18, 1967; 21 years old
Last local address: 45 Maple Street (2E), Norwalk
Enlisted on June 10, 1965
MOS: 0311, Rifleman
Tour Start Date: June 10, 1965
Service number 2136902
Unit: III MAF, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Recon Division, 3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Force Recon Company
Born to Thomas F. Scanlon (1914-2008) and Kathleen Burke Scanlon (1914-2000). Brother Thomas F. III (1937-2020) and Robert T. (1940-2011). Stepbrother Todd Patrie (1953-).
Casualty Location: Quang Tri Province
Awarded the Silver Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal.
Posted on vvmf.org April 9, 2003, by John T. Egger
Mike, it’s been 35 years and I have always carried your memory with me. So many times, I wanted to contact your family and tell them about you, but I didn’t have the courage. I didn’t know what to say. While our service together was short, the impression you made and left me with will last a lifetime. Yesterday, April 8, 2003, I called and spoke with your dad…. like you, he was a gentleman. We talked, laughed, and there were tears. I told him that my son, Michael John is named after you. And like you, he is kind and thoughtful, and always ready to help anyone anytime. The way you helped every one of us during “boot camp” and ITR training. You were and will always be my friend… you are fondly remembered and greatly missed. See you at roll call Mike. Semper Fi, Tom Egger, Platoon 235, Parris Island, 1965
Posted on vvmf.org April 17, 2012, by Mike Lopez
We left Boston on 6-10-1965. Five of us: Oliver, Rathbun, Burk, and me, Mike Lopez. We went to church on Sunday. The DI (Drill Instructor) did not like you 5 feet. Was not tall enough for them. You received your uniform the day before we left Parris Island. The last time we saw each other was in Okinawa in 1967. Spoke with your dad a couple of times and sent him an 8×12 boot camp photo of you. Always wondered why you, and not me. You were the better man. Semper Fi my brother.
Posted on vvmf.org June 17, 2015, by Louis Camerota
Michael was the tallest 5 feet ever recorded. He was kind, disciplined, strong, and honorable. He had the gentleness of a lamb and the heart of a lion. It is no wonder he was a United States Marine. Each day he did his best to walk in Christ’s footsteps.
Those who attended our 50th reunion all remembered him fondly. It was a privilege to have known him. God bless you, Mike. Semper Fi.
Posted on vvmf.org August 20, 2018, by Peter Costabile
We were friends since Nathan Hale Middle School, both lived on Wolfpit Ave in Norwalk and both wanted to join the Corps. When I told my parents, I was going into the Marines my Mom was in tears for weeks. So, I changed to the Navy & didn’t know you went into the Corps. For years I didn’t want to know what happened to my friends killed in Nam, and there were 5 or 6 from Norwalk, but now I know. I read & agree with the remembrance info, so there isn’t much I can add. I also remember your Dad at the eyeglass store & our playing in your yard. I’ll find your grave at Arlington & be with you soon.
SILVER STAR CITATION
AWARDED FOR ACTIONS DURING Vietnam War
Service: Marine Corps
Battalion: 3d Reconnaissance Battalion
Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Corporal Michael J. Scanlon (MCSN: 2136902), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Rifleman with Detachment, Third Force Reconnaissance Battalion, Third Marine Division, during operations against the enemy in Vietnam. On the night of 17 January 1967, Corporal Scanlon, as a member of a seven-man reconnaissance patrol, was flown by helicopter deep into enemy-controlled territory, with the mission of locating enemy infiltration routes. Throughout the night, the Marines heard sounds of enemy activity. At dawn on 18 January, the patrol moved to an observation point where a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army patrol of approximately forty men was sighted moving toward their position. Assigned the responsibility of providing security for the patrol’s flank, Corporal Scanlon quickly moved to his defensive position where he was observed by the approaching enemy. Demonstrating exceptional presence of mind, he warned his companions and immediately opened fire at the lead man of the North Vietnamese unit. He continued to bring effective fire to bear on the advancing enemy although wounded twice as the North Vietnamese moved to within fifteen meters of his position. Exhibiting exemplary courage and aggressive fighting spirit despite his painful wounds and the intense enemy fire directed at him, Corporal Scanlon maintained his position and halted the enemy’s attempts to dislodge the patrol’s flank security. When an enemy hand grenade landed within the patrol’s defensive perimeter Corporal Scanlon, with complete disregard for his own safety, valiantly attempted to recover the grenade but was mortally wounded. By his extraordinary courage, bold initiative, and selfless devotion to duty, Corporal Scanlon undoubtedly saved the lives of several Marines, inspired all those who observed him, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Casualty Card says “died as a result of multiple fragmentation wounds to the chest, back, right elbow, and left upper leg sustained while on patrol from an enemy explosive device during Operation Prairie.”
E-mail exchange between the webmaster and Corporal Scanlon’s stepbrother, Todd Patrie, Todd shared this: “Because of his small stature, he had to get a waiver to even enlist, and after getting in, he volunteered for every difficult billet he could. He ended up being a member of Third Force Recon — a Special Forces type unit that required SEAL training, Ranger training, and special jungle training in Panama. All his buddies (who trained with him) said he made it through things that men twice his size couldn’t hack.” (used with permission)
From a phone conversation between the webmaster and classmate Mike Sklarz, July 2022
Michael Scanlon attended Monson Academy in residence. Mike Sklarz was from Monson. Mike’s recollection was that Michael was a great wrestler. Despite being small in stature he was strong in spirit. “He was very religious and didn’t like swearing. The kids called him Saint Mike.” He is on a granite memorial in Monson along with 4 other Monson residents who died in Vietnam. He was featured in a book written by Monson resident Charles Nothe called “Five Names on a Granite Slab.”
From The Norwalk Hour January 21, 1967
Norwalk’s fourth casualty of the Vietnam War, a 21-year-old corporal who wanted to follow his two brothers’ footsteps in the Marine Corps, died of multiple wounds near Quang Tri on Wednesday. The dead youth, whose year of combat service would have been up in April, is Corporal Michael J. Scanlon, son of Thomas F. Scanlon Jr., of Old Lantern Road, and Mrs. Scanlon of Monson, Massachusetts. Mr. Scanlon received the news by telephone Friday night and in a telegram that evening that said his son died of “multiple fragmentation wounds to his body from an exploding hostile device while on patrol.” The young man, a graduate of local schools and Monson (Mass) Academy, enlisted in the Marines upon prep school graduation in June 1965. A paratrooper, he was a member of the Eighth Force Reconnaissance Company, Third Reconnaissance Battalion. “I’m not bitter about how it happened,” his father said today, “but I am bitter about how we’re fighting this war. We should be there to win and bring about peace. We’re doing a lousy job. When will the President and Congress stop tying the generals’ hands? We either fight communism or play ball with it; we’re doing both.” Besides his parents, young Scanlon is survived by two older brothers, Thomas III of Norwalk and Robert of Santa Rosa, California, both Marines. Mr. Scanlon, owner of the Norwalk Optical Company, 47 West Avenue, who said his son enlisted “to do his part,” told of a letter from him Thursday. “He said things were going well. He was doing patrol duty most of the time, walking ‘point’ for his platoon. It must have been a land mine or maybe a mortar. They don’t have him jumping (as a paratrooper).” In his last letter, the young man asked his father to see to it that his driver’s license was renewed. Not long ago, the Marine won a field promotion from Lance Corporal to Corporal for action under fire and was the subject of a feature story in a New York newspaper. Norwalk’s other casualties in Vietnam were: Lt Albert M. Prevost, Marine Corps pilot, of Highland Avenue; Army Sergeant William J. Tarsi, an ex-policeman, and William Lilly, a Marine, of 375 Rowayton Avenue. All three were killed last summer.
From The Norwalk Hour January 23, 1967
FLAGS LOWERED FOR CORPORAL SCANLON
Flags at City Hall and other municipal buildings were lowered to half-staff this morning in testimony to the sacrifice of Marine Corporal Michael J. Scanlon, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F Scanlon Jr., who lost his life last Wednesday in the jungles of Vietnam. Mayor Frank N. Zullo, who ordered this demonstration of mourning for three days, said the city “is saddened, but ever grateful to Corporal Scanlon and all American fighting to stop a hostile force from capturing men’s minds and bodies.” The local Marine died of multiple wounds from an exploding device near Quang Tri. He was due for rotation home in April.
Corporal Scanlon is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, 1 Memorial Drive, Arlington Virginia; Section 37, Plot 211. Photo by webmaster.