The President of the United States takes Pleasure in Presenting the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to
Richard G. Matthiesen*
Ordinary Seaman on SS Marcus Daly 12/10/44
For heroism beyond the call of duty
During the initial invasion of the Philippine Islands at Tacloban, Leyte, the SS Marcus Daly, in which Matthiesen was serving, carried troops and vital war material and, with two other vessels, afforded the principal defenses of the port for several days. During six days and nights of incessant fighting, while troops were being disembarked and her cargo safely discharged, the vessel was at times the only fire power defending the vital Leyte docks. Matthiesen volunteered and served as a member of the forward gun crew which distinguished itself during countless attacks by repulsing the enemy and bringing down many planes.
Two months later, on a subsequent arrival in the Philippines, this same vessel was again attacked by enemy bombers. Again Matthiesen served as a volunteer member of the gun crew during the engagement in which his ship shot down several Japanese aircraft. One of these bombers, after being hit, crashed and exploded under the forward gun platform, where Matthiesen was serving. Despite injuries and severe burns he escaped from the platform, but realizing that two members of the Navy gun crew remained behind, he returned through the intense heat and rescued them from the flames. The following morning Matthiesen died from the resulting burns and other injuries. [Buried Manila American Cemetery Location L-10-36]
His indomitable courage and unselfish impulse to go to the aid of shipmates in peril were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Merchant Marine.
For the President
Admiral Emory Scott Land