Vietnam War Hero Gets South Carolina’s Top Civilian Honor

As a recipient of the U.S. Military’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, retired Maj. General James Livingston has now received the highest civilian honor from his home state of South Carolina.


S.C. Governor Henry McMaster awarded the Order of the Palmetto to Livingston for his ongoing and extraordinary contributions to the state. The award was presented at a small ceremony at the South Carolina Statehouse on Tuesday.


Livingston entered the U.S. Marine Corps as a second lieutenant in 1962. By 1966 he was the Commanding Officer of the Marine detachment assigned to the The Wasp, a U.S. Naval aircraft carrier. He was sent to Vietnam in 1967. It was his heroic action during the Battle of Dai Do that landed him the Medal of Honor. Livingston participated in direct hand-to-hand combat, was wounded three times and was still firing at the enemy as two fellow Marines dragged him to safety.


Livingston served two tours in Vietnam. He retired from active duty in 1995 at the rank of Major General. Entering civilian life in South Carolina, he continued to distinguish himslef and make enormous contributions to businesses and community organizations, including the National D-Day Museum, the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America, the Salvation Army and the LSU Medical Foundations.


At the Palmetto Awards ceremony, Livingston repeated his favorite quote from Dr. Martin Luther King — that a man, “should be judged by the content of his character and not by the color of his skin.” He also said he was honored to receive South Carolina’s highest civilian honor because it was, “supported by the governor and friends.”


The Order of the Palmetto was created by governor John West in 1971 to recognize people who make outstanding contributions to their local communities.