Marine Col. Robert O. Tilley, a hero of the Vietnam War who later directed Camp Pendleton's morale programs for the troops, will be remembered at a December memorial service.
Tilley, 79, died on Oct. 18 following a long illness. A special graveside commemoration with full military honors for the Colorado native is slated for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 6 at Miramar National Cemetery.
A celebration of Tilley's life will follow at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar's Officers' Club.
"God, country and Corps. Those words defined Bob," said his wife, Helen Rene Hummer-Tilley. "He dedicated his life to making this world a better place."
In 1967 Tilley received the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest commendation, for his valor in Vietnam's Que Son Valley.
During Operation Union on May 12, 1967, as part of Commanding Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, then-1st Lt. Tilley led his men in a daring flanking movement against North Vietnamese troops besieging a neighboring unit, sparking heavy fighting through the night, according to his citation.
Despite being seriously wounded by a machine-gun bullet to the chest, early on the following day he conducted Company K's attack on an enemy battalion, repeatedly exposing himself to mortar and rifle fire, to force the North Vietnamese to retreat.
In their wake, the Marines counted 105 enemy dead and captured a trove of abandoned weapons and ammunition.
After recovering from his wound, Tilley returned to Vietnam to command a Combined Unit Pacification Program company in the Que Son mountains and adjacent river valleys in 1971.
He retired from the Corps in 1991, following a stint as the director of Camp Pendleton's Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. Along with the Silver Star, he wore two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star with a "V" designation for battlefield heroism and a pair of Legion of Merit medals for exceptional service to the Marine Corps.
Tilley is survived by his wife of 61 years, Rene; daughters Laura Burch, Leisa Grajek and Deanne Stott; sister Priscilla Smith; six grandchildren; and a great-grandson.