The MCRD Museum Foundation will be hosting it's next Quarterly Breakfast at MCRD's Duncan Hall on October 22nd, 2019. The breakfast will run from 0700-0730 with a brief presentation to follow from 0730-0800. This quarter's guest speaker is Marine veteran, Silver Star recipient, and former Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Diego, Joe Cordileone.Active Duty/Reservists and members eat FREE!
The MCRD Museum Foundation annual members and Board of Directors meeting will follow from 0845-0950 in the Command Museum.
About Joe Cordileone:
Joe Cordileone was born on August 3, 1947 in San Diego, California and went to boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA on 24 June, 1966 in Platoon 3046 and by early December PFC Cordileone found himself on a boat to Vietnam. Upon arrival he served with Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division as a rifleman and radio operator.
During PFC Cordileone’s tour, his unit was always in the North close to the DMZ. His battalion spent the entire time maneuvering throughout the infamous Leatherneck Square. On 30 April, 1967, Mike Company found itself fighting its way up a hill outside of Khe Sanh. They faced a North Vietnamese battalion hunkered into the slope on Hill 881South.
It was a vicious firefight. At one point, Cordileone was one of four Marines carrying his severely wounded platoon commander when a mortar exploded nearby killing the commander and two of the men carrying him. PFC Cordileone sustained serious fragmentation wounds from the intense explosion. Even after being wounded himself, PFC Cordileone stayed on the hill for another eight hours continuing forward assaults against the enemy. During this time, he realized that there were many wounded Marines who needed to be taken out of the line of fire. The citation supporting his Silver Star credits him with saving the lives of at least 10 fellow Marines that day.
In that one action before leaving the bomb-cratered slopes of Hill 881 South three-quarters of the company wounded or killed. From a force of 104 Marines, 27 were killed in action and 50 were wounded in action.
After his time in Vietnam, he served at Camp Pendleton until his tour was up in 1969. Immediately after the Corps, Mr. Cordileone took advantage of GI Bill and went back to college. On return to school, he utilized his Marine Corps training and the general approach to challenges the Corps instilled in him to address the fears and difficulties of college life.
And by 1972 he graduated from San Francisco State University having finished in 3 years, all the requirements for a full 4 year degree. He completed all the course work required for a major in Political Science, a major in Broadcast Communications and a minor in Journalism. He graduated magna cum laude and was named student of the year in the broadcasting department.
From 1973 to 1976 he attended the University of San Diego School of Law on a full tuition merit scholarship. There he was named the outstanding student in Constitutional law, won the American Jurisprudence Award for the highest grade in Contracts Law and graduated 13th in his class.
After that, Mr. Cordileone spent forty years practicing civil law. The last ten of which, he served as a Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Diego. In that role, he headed its Special Litigation section. His unit was responsible for defending the City in the more complex litigation matters it faced.
Mr. Cordileone asked me to point out the fact that, during his tenure, with more than 150 attorneys employed, two of five Chief Deputies in the litigation division were United States Marines. That doesn’t count Marine Reservist John Hemmerling the current Assistant City Attorney in charge of all criminal cases or retired Marine John Kaheny who was an Assistant City Attorney when he retired.
Now that Mr. Cordileone is retired, for the past several years he has been giving back to the Corps. He volunteers as a docent here at our Museum and also serves with the Legacy old timers who give barracks lectures to young Marines just before their graduation. He loves educating our brand new Marines on the history and legacy of the Corps. He is impressed by the dedication and zeal shown by these young warriors. Mr. Cordileone also serves at the San Diego Superior Court as a mentor helping active and veteran Marines who have had brushes with the law which are shown to be related to their service.
Mr. Cordileone is married to Dr. Diana R. Cordileone, a retired history professor, where they have a blended family consisting of his two children, Nick and Jennifer Cordileone, and Diana’s two children Sean and Emily. Mr. Cordileone is proud to mention his step-son, Sean Reynolds. Sadly Sean is serving his country as an Airman. But Cordileone is quick to mention that before Sean opted for the cushy life of the Air Force, he first served 4 hard years as a United States Marine. And it is not at all surprising that after he left the Corps, it didn’t take the Air Force long to conclude that the only suitable job for a former Marine Corps E-5 was to make him an officer. Sean is now a good conduct wearing Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.
Mr. Cordileone’s military awards are: Silver Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (for Gallantry), Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (for Civil Action), and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.