John Durlin was born on June 1, 1949, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on August 28, 1967, and completed basic training at NTC San Diego, California, in November 1967. Durlin next attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training with Class 044 at NAB Coronado, California, from December 1967 to May 1968. His first assignment was with SEAL Team ONE at NAB Coronado, and he deployed to South Vietnam with his Team from September 1968 to January 1969, from April to May 1969, and from March 1970 until he was killed in the crash of a UH-1 Iroquois in South Vietnam on June 23, 1970.
His Bronze Star Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious service while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong communist aggressors in the Republic of Vietnam from 5 March to 23 June 1970. While serving as automatic weapons man with United States Navy SEAL Team One, Detachment Golf, Echo Platoon, Petty Officer DURLIN participated in forty combat missions in Viet Cong dominated areas of the Mekong Delta. His methodical preparation for combat patrols significantly contributed to the success of those operations against the enemy. He continuously displayed a keen sense of alertness while operating in the field. On 14 March 1970, Petty Officer DURLIN was positioned on the left flank of a listening post deep in a Viet Cong controlled area. Suddenly, he detected two enemy soldiers creeping along the canal toward his position. Crawling silently to his patrol leader's position, he informed him of the situation. Petty Officer DURLIN then detonated an antipersonnel mine, hurled a grenade into the enemy position and rushed forward to meet the enemy. Coming under enemy fire, he quickly suppressed the attack and enabled his patrol to move into position to repulse the enemy. Petty Officer DURLIN's exemplary professionalism, devotion to duty and courage under fire reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.