George Kenton Sisler (1937–1967)

George Kenton Sisler was a 1964 graduate of Arkansas State University (ASU) who received a Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while serving with a Special Forces unit in Vietnam in 1967.

George Kenton Sisler was born on September 19, 1937, in Dexter, Missouri, to George R. Sisler and Grace Fransada Sisler. Sisler attended what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County), where he distinguished himself by winning the 1963 National Collegiate Skydiving Championship while his leg was in a cast. He graduated in 1964 with a BS in education. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 20, 1964.

Sisler went to Vietnam as a first lieutenant and intelligence officer with the Headquarters Company of the Fifth Special Forces Group (Airborne), First Special Forces. He was serving as platoon leader and adviser of a platoon of combined U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers deep behind enemy lines on February 7, 1967, when they were attacked from three sides by a company-sized enemy force. Sisler quickly rallied his men and established a defensive perimeter, calling in air strikes on their attackers.

On learning that two of his men were still outside the perimeter, Sisler—according to his Medal of Honor citation—“charged from the position through intense enemy fire to assist them.” He was carrying one of the men back to his lines when they came under heavy fire. Laying the man down, “he killed 3 onrushing enemy soldiers by firing his rifle and silenced the enemy machinegun with a grenade.”

Sisler had just brought the wounded soldier within the defensive perimeter when an intense enemy attack threatened his left flank and wounded several of his men. According to his Medal of Honor citation, “1st Lt. Sisler picked up some grenades and charged singlehandedly into the enemy onslaught, firing his weapon and throwing grenades.” His one-man attack forced the enemy to retreat, and as Sisler moved among his men, calling in additional air strikes, he was mortally wounded.

Sisler’s widow, Jane, and sons David and James received his Medal of Honor from Secretary of War Stanley R. Resor on June 27, 1968. In 1998, a non-commissioned U.S. Navy support vessel, the Sisler, named in George Kenton Sisler’s honor, was launched. It serves in Afloat Prepositioning Ship Squadron Four at Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean.

Sisler is buried in Dexter Cemetery in Dexter. His name is included on Panel 15E, Row 007 on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.

For additional information:
“George Kenton (Ken) Sisler.” Hall of Heroes, Arkansas State University. (accessed July 17, 2020).

“Husband’s Medal Given to Widow.” Daily Capitol News (Jefferson City, Missouri), June 28, 1968, p. 6.

Medal of Honor Recipients 1863–1978, Prepared for the Committee on Veterans Affairs United States Senate, February 14, 1979. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1979.

Mark Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas


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