Oscar P Austin joined the United States Marine Corps in Phoenix, Arizona April 22, 1968 and completed recruit training with the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, in July 1968.
He completed his individual combat training with Company T, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, in August 1968; and basic infantry training with Weapons Company, Basic Infantry Training Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton, in September.
Promoted to private first class on October 1, 1968, he was transferred later that month to South Vietnam where he served as ammunitions man with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division.
While participating in combat 6.5 miles west of Da Nang on February 23, 1969, he was killed in action.
During the early morning hours on February 23, 1969, PFC Austin's observation post came under a fierce ground attack by a large North Vietnamese Army force using a heavy volume of hand grenades, satchel charges and small arms fire.
Observing that one of his wounded companions had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to hostile fire, Austin unhesitatingly left the relative security of his fighting hole and, with complete disregard for his own safety, raced across the fire swept terrain to drag the Marine to safety.
As he neared his companion, he observed an enemy grenade land nearby. Leaping between the grenade and the injured Marine, Austin took the full force of the explosion himself. Although he was badly injured, Austin turned to help his fallen companion and saw a North Vietnamese soldier aiming a weapon at the unconscious man.
With full knowledge of the probable consequences, Austin threw himself between the injured Marine and the hostile soldier. In doing so, he was mortally wounded.
Austin is buried in Phoenix's Greenwood/Memory Lawn Mortuary & Cemetery. He was posthumously awarded the medal of honor.