John Corley was born on August 4, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York. He was commissioned a 2Lt in the U.S. Army through the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on June 14, 1938, and attended Air Corps Primary Flying School before being reassigned to the Infantry. Corley served with and later commanded the 3rd Battalion of the 26th Infantry Division in the Mediterranean and European Theaters of Operation during World War II, including participation in the landings in North Africa and the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. He later served at the Nuremberg trials before returning to the U.S. Military Academy as an instructor. Corley was personnaly requested by General MacArthur to serve in Korea at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. There he served as commander of 3rd Batallion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division from August 1950 to February 1951. After Korea, Corley served as Chief of the Infantry Branch before graduating from Army War College in 1954. He served with 7th Army in Europe from August 1954 to August 1957, and then served as director of the Infantry School's Ranger Department at Fort Benning, Georgia, from August 1957 to May 1960. He next served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Allied Land Forces, with SHAPE in Denmark from June 1960 to May 1962. Gen Corley became Assistant Division Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, in June 1962, and he was assigned as Chief of Staff, 1st Army in New York, in June 1964. His final assignment was as Deputy Commanding General at the U.S. Army's Infantry Training Center, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, from January 1966 until his retirement from the Army on September 30, 1966. John T. Corley died on April 16, 1977.
His 2nd Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to John Thomas Corley (0-21325), Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of the 3d Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Lieutenant Colonel Corley distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces near Haman, Korea, during the period 21 through 23 August 1950. Two of Colonel Corley's companies had as their objective the key hill to the regimental sector, Battle Mountain. Company L led off the attack, gained the objective and while attempting to secure the position was driven back by a counterattack. Quickly estimating the situation, Colonel Corley moved from his forward command post under small-arms, machine-gun and mortar fire to a position about two hundred yards from the summit of Battle Mountain to reorganize Company L. He stopped the retreat and reorganized the position. The counterattack was checked, Colonel Corley stayed on this position until the enemy attack had been repelled. He called for artillery fire, but the liaison officer was unable to communicate with his guns. Colonel Corley returned to his command post and obtained communications through Regiment to the guns. He then directed fire on the right flank of Battle Mountain where the enemy was in the process of regrouping. This fire was effective. He then ordered Company L to retake Battle Mountain. Colonel Corley moved from his command post to Company L, where he coordinated small- arms, mortar, and artillery fire. When the attack of Company L was stopped, he directed Company I to move through Company L. Company I gained the approach ridge but later was forced to withdraw. Again Colonel Corley reorganized the men and placed Company I in reserve behind Company L. On 23 August 1950, the companies completed the mission of capturing Battle Mountain. The extraordinary heroism and inspirational leadership displayed by Colonel Corley reflects the highest credit upon himself and the military service.