A whole lot of "gotta wanna" - US Medal of Honor recipients

boomer

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Roy P. Benavidez was born in Lindenau near Cuero, Texas in DeWitt County. He is a descendant of the founders of Benavides, Texas and was the son of a Mexican farmer, Salvador Benavidez, Jr. and a Yaqui mother, Teresa Perez.

When he was two years old, his father died of tuberculosis and his mother remarried. Five years later, his mother died from tuberculosis as well. Benavidez and his younger brother Roger moved to El Campo, where their grandfather, uncle and aunt raised them along with eight cousins.

Benavidez shined shoes at the local bus station, labored on farms in California and Washington, and worked at a tire shop in El Campo. He dropped out of school at age 15, in order to work full-time to help support the family.

Benavidez enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard in 1952 during the Korean War. In June 1955, he switched from the Army National Guard to Army active duty. In 1959, he married Hilaria Coy Benavidez, completed Airborne training, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

After several deployments Benavidez returned to Fort Bragg, where he began training for the elite Army Special Forces. Once qualified and accepted, he became a member of the 5th Special Forces Group; and the Studies and Observations Group (SOG).

In 1965, he was sent to South Vietnam as a Special Forces advisor to an Army of the Republic of Vietnam infantry regiment. During his tour of duty, he stepped on a land mine during a patrol and was evacuated to the United States. Doctors at Fort Sam Houston concluded he would never walk again and began preparing his medical discharge papers. As Benavidez noted in his MOH acceptance speech in 1981, stung by the diagnosis, as well as flag burnings and media criticism of the US military presence in Vietnam he saw on TV, he began an unsanctioned nightly training ritual in an attempt to redevelop his ability to walk.

Getting out of bed at night (against doctors' orders), Benavidez would crawl using his elbows and chin to a wall near his bedside and (with the encouragement of his fellow patients, many of whom were permanently paralyzed and/or missing limbs) he would prop himself against the wall and attempt to lift himself unaided, starting by wiggling his toes, then his feet, and then eventually (after several months of excruciating practice that, by his own admission, often left him in tears) pushing himself up the wall with his ankles and legs." After over a year of hospitalization, Benavidez walked out of the hospital in July 1966, with his wife at his side, determined to return to combat in Vietnam. Despite continuing pain from his wounds, he returned to South Vietnam in January 1968.

Six Hours in Hell

On May 2, 1968, a 12-man Special Forces patrol, which included nine Montagnard tribesmen, was surrounded by an NVA infantry battalion of about 1,000 men. Benavidez heard the radio appeal for help and boarded a helicopter to respond. Armed only with a knife, he jumped from the helicopter carrying his medical bag and ran to help the trapped patrol. Benavidez "distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions... and because of his gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men."

At one point in the battle an NVA soldier accosted him and stabbed him with his bayonet. Benavidez pulled it out, drew his own knife, killed him and kept going, leaving his knife in the NVA soldier's body. He later killed two more NVA soldiers with an AK-47 while providing cover fire for the people boarding the helicopter. After the battle, he was evacuated to the base camp, examined, and thought to be dead. As he was placed in a body bag among the other dead in body bags, he was suddenly recognized by a friend who called for help. A doctor came and examined him but believed Benavidez was dead. The doctor was about to zip up the body bag when Benavidez managed to spit in his face, alerting the doctor that he was alive. Benavidez had a total of 37 separate bullet, bayonet, and shrapnel wounds from the six-hour fight with the enemy battalion.

Benavidez was evacuated once again to Fort Sam Houston's Brooke Army Medical Center, where he eventually recovered. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism and four Purple Hearts. In 1969, he was assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1972, he was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas where he remained until retirement in 1976.

In 1973, after more detailed accounts became available, Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel Ralph R. Drake insisted that Benavidez receive the Medal of Honor. By then, however, the time limit on the medal had expired. An appeal to Congress resulted in an exemption for Benavidez, but the Army Decorations Board denied him an upgrade of his Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor.

The Army board required an eyewitness account from someone present during the action. Benavidez believed that there were no living witnesses of the "Six Hours in Hell."

Unbeknownst to Benavidez, there was a living witness, who would later provide the eyewitness account necessary: Brian O'Connor, the former radioman of Benavidez's Special Forces team in Vietnam. O'Connor had been severely wounded (Benavidez had believed him dead), and he was evacuated to the United States before his superiors could fully debrief him.

O'Connor had been living in the Fiji Islands when, in 1980, he was on holiday in Australia. During his holiday O'Connor read a newspaper account of Benavidez from an El Campo newspaper, which had been picked up by the international press and reprinted in Australia. O'Connor immediately contacted Benavidez and submitted a ten-page report of the encounter, confirming the accounts provided by others, and serving as the necessary eyewitness. Benavidez's Distinguished Service Cross accordingly was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

On February 24, 1981, President Ronald Reagan presented Roy P. Benavidez with the Medal of Honor in the Pentagon. Reagan turned to the press and said, "If the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it". He then read the official award citation:

Rank and organization: Master Sergeant.
Organization: Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group, Republic of Vietnam
Place and date: West of Loc Ninh on May 2, 1968
Entered service at: Houston, Texas, June 1955
Born: August 5, 1935, DeWitt County, Cuero, Texas

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of the Congress the Medal of Honor to


Master Sergeant Roy P. BENAVIDEZ

United States Army, Retired

CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

On 2 May 1968, Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire.

Sergeant BENAVIDEZ was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters, of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, returned to off-load wounded crew members and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant BENAVIDEZ voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team.

Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader.

When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt.

He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from behind by an enemy soldier. In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, he sustained additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded.

Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant BENAVIDEZ' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.





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boomer

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The 'Real' Forrest Gump: Medal of Honor Recipient Sammy L. Davis. He used to come to the Naval Academy and tell his account on an annual basis to a giant lecture hall that ended up being standing room only. Sammy Davis has some of the biggest balls ever.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, on November 1, 1946, Davis was raised in French Camp, California. His family had a long tradition of military service; his grandfather served in the Spanish–American War, his father Robert Davis was in World War II, and his brothers Hubert ("Buddy") and Darrell Davis served in Korea and Vietnam, respectively. Davis attended Manteca High School in Manteca, California, where he was a member of the football and diving teams. He also participated in Sea Scouting in Stockton. After his junior year of high school, Davis' family moved to Indiana. He graduated from Mooresville High School in 1966.

Davis enlisted in the United States Army from Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1965.

In March 1967, Davis was sent to South Vietnam as a private first class, and was assigned to Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. On November 18, 1967, his unit at Firebase Cudgel (10.4198°N 105.991°E) west of Cai Lay, fell under machine gun fire and heavy mortar attack by an estimated three companies of Viet Cong from the 261st Viet Cong Main Force Battalion, which swarmed the area from the south and then west. Upon detecting an enemy position, Davis manned a machine gun to give his comrades covering fire so they could fire artillery in response. Davis was wounded, but ignored warnings to take cover, taking over the unit's burning howitzer and firing several shells himself. He also disregarded his inability to swim due to a broken back, and crossed a river there on an air mattress to help rescue three wounded American soldiers. He ultimately found his way to another howitzer site to continue fighting the NVA attack until they fled. The battle lasted two hours.

Davis was subsequently promoted to sergeant and received the Medal of Honor the following year from President Lyndon B. Johnson. After he was presented the medal at the White house ceremony, Davis played "Oh Shenandoah" on his harmonica in memory of the men he served with in Vietnam.

Davis retired in 1984 due to his war-time injuries.

Rank and organization: Sergeant (then Private First Class), U.S. Army, Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division

Place and date: West of Cai Lay, Republic of Vietnam, 18 November 1967

Entered service at: Indianapolis, Indiana

Born: 1 November 1946, Dayton, Ohio


Citation for the Medal Of Honor:


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty. SGT Davis (then PFC) distinguished himself during the early morning hours while serving as a cannoneer with Battery C at a remote fire support base. At approximately 0200 hours, the fire support base was under heavy enemy mortar attack. Simultaneously, an estimated reinforced Viet Cong battalion launched a fierce ground assault upon the fire support base. The attacking enemy drove to within 25 meters of the friendly positions. Only a river separated the Viet Cong from the fire support base. They were detecting a nearby enemy position, Sgt. Davis seized a machine gun and provided covering fire for his gun crew as they attempted to bring direct artillery fire on the enemy. Despite his efforts, an enemy recoilless rifle round scored a direct hit upon the artillery piece. The resultant blast hurled the gun crew from their weapon and blew Sgt. Davis into a foxhole. He struggled to his feet and returned to the howitzer, burning furiously. Ignoring repeated warnings to seek cover, SGT Davis rammed a shell into the gun. Disregarding a withering hail of enemy fire directed against his position, he aimed and fired the howitzer, which rolled backward, knocking SGT Davis violently to the ground. Undaunted, he returned to the weapon to fire again when an enemy mortar round exploded within 20 meters of his position, injuring him painfully. Nevertheless, SGT Davis loaded the artillery piece, aimed, and fired. Again he was knocked down by the recoil. In complete disregard for his safety, SGT Davis loaded and fired three more shells into the enemy. Disregarding his extensive injuries and inability to swim, SGT Davis picked up an air mattress and struck out across the deep river to rescue three wounded comrades on the far side. Upon reaching the three wounded men, he stood upright and fired into the dense vegetation to prevent the Viet Cong from advancing. While the most seriously wounded soldier was helped across the river, SGT Davis protected the two remaining casualties until he could pull them across the river to the fire support base. Though suffering from painful wounds, he refused medical attention, joining another howitzer crew that fired at the large Viet Cong force until it broke contact and fled. SGT Davis' extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life, is in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

/S/ Lyndon B. Johnson



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boomer

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Michael E Thornton is a retired United States Navy SEAL and recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Vietnam War. He was awarded the medal for saving the life of his senior officer, Lieutenant Thomas R. Norris, who also earned the Medal of Honor in an unrelated incident.

Born on March 23, 1949, in Greenville, South Carolina, Thornton graduated from high school in 1967 and enlisted in the United States Navy later that year in Spartanburg.

Thornton served aboard destroyers as a gunner's mate apprentice until November 1968, when he attended United States Navy SEAL selection and training at Coronado, California. He was among only 18 students who graduated from BUD/S class 49 in March 1969, which started with 129 members. He received direct assignment to SEAL Team ONE, a separate organization from the Underwater Demolition Teams that new personnel were normally assigned. Following SEAL Basic Indoctrination (SBI) training and platoon training, Thornton deployed to South Vietnam with Charlie Platoon from December 1969 to June 1970. He served numerous combat tours in Southeast Asia which ran from 1969 to December 1972.

Thornton conducted intelligence gathering operations across Vietnam. By the last quarter of 1972, U.S. involvement in the region had waned and Thornton, by then a petty officer, was one of only a dozen SEALs remaining in Vietnam.

Medal of Honor action​




On October 31 of that year, Thornton participated in a mission to capture prisoners and gather intelligence from the Cửa Việt Base near the coast of Quảng Trị Province, just south of the Demilitarized Zone. In addition to Thornton, the mission team consisted of SEAL Lieutenant Thomas R. Norris, and three experienced Vietnamese men Thornton had worked with before, members of the LDNN, the South Vietnamese Special Forces. The group was transported by junk until sunset, then paddled a rubber boat to within a mile of shore and swam the remaining distance. Moving inland past numerous North Vietnamese encampments, the group reconnoitered through the night.

The team soon realized that they had landed too far north and were actually in North Vietnam. They found large numbers of bunker complexes and heavy concentrations of North Vietnamese troops. They patrolled slowly through the middle of the enemy troops, gathering intelligence as they went.

The group encountered a two-man North Vietnamese patrol on the beach, which the South Vietnamese attempted to capture. Thornton chased one of the enemy back towards the jungle to prevent him from alerting others. When Thornton shot him, about 50 North Vietnamese soldiers chased after him. Moving from one position to another, Thornton and the others kept the enemy confused about the number of troops they faced. Thornton was wounded in the back by a grenade. He contacted a destroyer and requested naval gunfire support, but unknown to Thornton it was struck by North Vietnamese shore batteries and unable to fire. A second destroyer was unable to maneuver into firing position for the same reason.

For the next four hours, the five men held off an enemy force estimated at 150 strong. Norris attempted to call in the Vietnamese junk boats, one of which had a mortar on board, but the destroyers forbid them from entering the line of fire. Thornton, Norris and the three Vietnamese were alone and nearly surrounded. Near dawn, Norris ordered the group to extract towards the beach, and they leap-frogged towards the surf. Norris was able to contact the cruiser USS Newport News and requested that they fire for effect to cover their withdrawal. Norris covered the group's rearward movement. As he prepared to fire a LAW rocket at a group of 70 to 75 North Vietnamese troops attacking his position, he was severely wounded by a round through his head.

One of the South Vietnamese who saw Norris get shot assumed he was dead. Thornton, upon hearing the news, ran about 400 yards (370 m) to the last location he saw Norris to recover the body of his fallen comrade. When he found Norris, he saw that "the whole side of his head was completely gone." As enemy troops overran his position, he stopped to shoot several. Thornton put Norris on his shoulders and ran back towards the beach when the first shell from the Newport News struck the beach. The concussion from the round blew Thornton and Norris 20 feet (6.1 m) into the air. It also slowed the advance of the enemy troops, and Thornton picked up Norris who he discovered was just barely alive.


Thornton carried Norris into the surf and began to swim with him. One of the Vietnamese was shot in the buttocks and couldn't swim, so Thornton grabbed him as well and pushed both of them out to sea. Bullets landed in the sea all around them. The Newport News left, thinking that the Americans and South Vietnamese had been killed. Thornton bandaged Norris' wound as well as he could and swam for about three hours. One of the South Vietnamese was finally picked up by the junk. He reported that the two Americans were dead, which was relayed to the Newport News. Thornton fired Norris' AK-47 to draw the attention of the junk. They were picked up and then transported to the Newport News. Thornton carried Norris to the operating room, where the doctor told Thornton, "There's no way he's going to make it."

For these actions, Thornton was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon during a ceremony at the White House on October 15, 1973. The man Thornton rescued, Thomas Norris, survived his wounds and was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Gerald R. Ford in a White House ceremony on March 6, 1976, for his April 1972 rescue of Lieutenant Colonel Iceal Hambleton and First Lieutenant Mark Clark in the rescue of Bat 21 Bravo.

Thornton received a commission in 1982 as a limited duty officer and retired from the navy as a lieutenant in 1992.


Citation​

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while participating in a daring operation against enemy forces. PO Thornton, as Assistant U.S. Navy Advisor, along with a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving as Senior Advisor, accompanied a 3-man Vietnamese Navy SEAL patrol on an intelligence gathering and prisoner capture operation against an enemy-occupied naval river base. Launched from a Vietnamese Navy junk in a rubber boat, the patrol reached land and was continuing on foot toward its objective when it suddenly came under heavy fire from a numerically superior force. The patrol called in naval gunfire support and then engaged the enemy in a fierce firefight, accounting for many enemy casualties before moving back to the waterline to prevent encirclement. Upon learning that the Senior Advisor had been hit by enemy fire and was believed to be dead, PO Thornton returned through a hail of fire to the lieutenant's last position; quickly disposed of 2 enemy soldiers about to overrun the position, and succeeded in removing the seriously wounded and unconscious Senior Naval Advisor to the water's edge. He then inflated the lieutenant's lifejacket and towed him seaward for approximately 2 hours until picked up by support craft. By his extraordinary courage and perseverance, PO Thornton was directly responsible for saving the life of his superior officer and enabling the safe extraction of all patrol members, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.



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boomer

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Jay R. Vargas is a retired United States Marine Corps colonel who served in the Vietnam War. He received the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty" in 1968.

Vargas is one of four brothers who has served in combat in the United States Armed Forces in time of war - World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Vargas attended high school in Winslow, Arizona where he was born. He graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1962 with a B.S. Degree in Education and completed a Master of Arts Degree with "Honors" at U.S International University in San Diego, California.

After completing The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, in June 1963, Vargas was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. For his actions in the Battle of Dai Do, Republic of Vietnam in 1968 as a captain, Vargas was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard M. Nixon in a May 1970 ceremony at the White House. He is also a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, the Command and Staff College, Quantico, Virginia, and the National War College, Washington, D.C.




Lieutenant Colonel Jay Vargas with Medal of Honor


Vargas served as a Weapons and Rifle Platoon Commander; Rifle Company Executive Officer; three times as a Rifle Company Commander (two of which were in combat); S-3 Operations Officer; Recruit Depot Series Commander; Instructor, Staff Planning School, LFTCPAC; Headquarters Company Commander, 3rd Marine Division; Commanding Officer and Executive Officer, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division; Commanding Officer of the 7th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton from 10 August 1984 to 29 May 1986; Aide-de-Camp to the Deputy Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; Marine Officer Instructor, NROTC Unit, University of New Mexico; Head, Operations Branch, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington D.C.; and as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, 1st Marine Amphibious Force.

After almost thirty years of service, Vargas retired from the Marine Corps in 1992 as a colonel.

Medal of Honor citation:


The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.
MAJOR JAY R. VARGAS
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commanding Officer, Company G, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, Ninth Marine Amphibious Brigade in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam from 30 April to 2 May 1968. On 1 May 1968, though suffering from wounds he had incurred while relocating his unit under heavy enemy fire the preceding day, Major (then Captain) Vargas combined Company G with two other companies and led his men in an attack on the fortified village of Dai Do. Exercising expert leadership, he maneuvered his Marines across 700 meters of open rice paddy while under intense enemy mortar, rocket and artillery fire and obtained a foothold in two hedgerows on the enemy perimeter, only to have elements of his company become pinned down by the intense enemy fire. Leading his reserve platoon to the aid of his beleaguered men, Major Vargas inspired his men to renew their relentless advance, while destroying a number of enemy bunkers. Again wounded by grenade fragments, he refused aid as he moved about the hazardous area reorganizing his unit into a strong defense perimeter at the edge of the village. Shortly after the objective was secured, the enemy commenced a series of counterattacks and probes which lasted throughout the night but were unsuccessful as the gallant defenders of Company G stood firm in their hard-won enclave. Reinforced the following morning, the Marines launched a renewed assault through Dai Do on the village of Dinh To, to which the enemy retaliated with a massive counterattack resulting in hand-to-hand combat. Major Vargas remained in the open, encouraging and rendering assistance to his Marines when he was hit for the third time in the three-day battle. Observing his battalion commander sustain a serious wound, he disregarded his excruciating pain, crossed the fire-swept area and carried his commander to a covered position, then resumed supervising and encouraging his men simultaneously assisting in organizing the battalion's perimeter defense. His gallant actions uphold the highest traditions of the Marines Corps and the United States Naval Service.
/S/ RICHARD M. NIXON



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Ed Lada

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I met and shook COL Lewis Millet's hand on the 46th anniversary of the battle for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on February 7th 1951. Hill 180, known as Bayonet Hill is on the land occupied nowadays by Osan Airbase. As a veteran and an avid military history student, meeting a Medal of Honor recipient on the very place where the action took place was an incredible and moving experience. COL Millet passed away in 2009. He was a veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam and a total badass.

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boomer

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Interesting Ed and thanks for that and posting the video. I have a story about Seabees SW 2 Stephen Fenes and UT1 O.B. O'banion - the most highly decorated Seabees, not named Marvin Shields - who helped defend a Special Forces Camp at Con Thien, and saved them when being overrun with M14s and an M60. To tell the story right, I must piece links and the story together properly and in order. I've been meaning to put the story together for some of my Seabee groups.-and I will take time to do thus soon, but must put the material together properly, first.

UT 1 O'Banion and SW 3 Fenes deployed with MCB4 on April 8,1967 to De Nang, Vietnam. This was Battalion 4’s second of four Vietnam deployments. In addition to constructing the Da Nang Air Base, Fenes worked on the duct work for the base bowling alley. UT 1 O'Banion was usually in charge of large piping both ductile and old "wood stove piping".

UT 1 O'Banion and SW 3 Fenes was a part of a small detachment of Seabees sent out to build a camp at Hill 158, nicknamed “Freedom Hill,” in Con Thien for the US Army Special Forces Detachment A-110 (Mobile Strike Force). Fenes job was to construct and maintain the drilling rig used to create a water well that would supply fresh, potable water. O'Banion's job was to build a a water system for the camp.

Despite translating to “Hill of Angels” in Vietnamese, Con Thien was hell on earth. Con Thien was the northernmost U.S. outpost nearly two miles away from the Demilitarized Zone. The North Vietnamese fired an average of 105 mortar shells every day at the US encampment. Utilitiesman 1st Class Lloyd O Banion was awarded a Silver Star for his actions during the second phase/wave of an attack at Con Thien, RVN. One of their main targets was the water well drilling rig SWF3 Fenes was working on.

In the pre-dawn hours of May 8,1967 at 0200, the North Vietnamese Army battered the American troops with 2,000 mortar rounds for 15 minutes under the dark of night without any moonlight. A numerically superior group of North Vietnamese then infiltrated the defensive positions at Hill 158 blowing past the Civilian Irregular Defense Group and wiping out an entire Marine platoon in the process.

They commenced firing upon the Seabees and Green Berets. Without any hesitation or thought for his own life, SWF3 Fenes grabbed an M-14 rifle and joined an M-60 machine gun team - composed of O'banion with the M-60, and two RVN regulars supplying and feeding the belts - to return fire while enemy bullets were flying past them from all angles.The RVN regulars were getting skittish, and ready to run, but O'Banion warned them if they ran, the NVA would probably shoot them in the back - and if they did run, they wouldn't have to worry about NVA shooting them, because O'Banion would shoot them himself if they ran - so the two RVN stuck around, supplied and fed links. Hearing cries of help from two Green Berets that were stuck at a nearby 50 caliber machine gun position, SWF3 Fenes valiantly jumped up with his Battalion’s Corpsman and ran out to pull the Green Berets back to safety.

One Green Beret took a bullet to his neck while the other had no injuries. Not only did they survive but SWF3 Fenes’ aggressive and selfless actions helped defend the Seabee and Special Forces position at Con Thien all while remaining cool under fire.

The fighting continued as the sun rose up until the North Vietnamese retreated by 0900. Fenes had an estimated 145 North Vietnamese kills. For his heroic actions on that day, SWF3 Fenes was awarded the Silver Star & the Bronze Star with Combat “V”. His fellow Seabee UT1 Lloyd O’Banion who killed well over 200 with the M-60 also received a Silver Star. They lived up to the Seabee motto that day – They built and they fought.

When Fenes and O'Banion returned to Da Nang Air Base, the Corpsman determined that everyone had caught some shrapnel metal from the fight at Con Thien. Because there were so many Seabees involved in the fight, with at least five other Seebees involved in the firefight - with everyone sporting shapnel or other wounds, the Executive Officer did not want to award all of them Purple Hearts believing a big number of awardees would cause suspicion. As a compromise, the CO placed four Purple Hearts on a table and it was first come, first serve for whoever wanted the medals. Believing he was just doing his job, Fenes did not take a Purple Heart. I don't recall for certain but I don't think O'Banion picked up a Purple Heart, and he was knicked up more having more wounds then everyone else by far.

Prior to being honorably discharged in August 1967, Fenes earned the rank of Steelworker Second Class (Petty Officer Second Class/E-5). Stephen returned back home to Indiana and on October 1, 1967, he joined the Hammond Fire Department. Out of his 21 years serving in the HFD, he spent 17 years as an engineer driving fire trucks. Stephen won 1988 HFD Firefighter of the Year and earned a Fire Science Degree from the State of Indiana. He utilized his Steelworker skills doing welding work for the fire department.


Reflecting upon his time as a Seabee, Stephen has no regrets. His time in the Navy taught him a professional trade and gave him a cherished sense of camaraderie. He learned to always give your best shot, do what you have to do, always do the right thing, use your head when making decisions, and depend on one another. These lessons learned in the Navy transitioned towards his firefighting career and life.


Stephen holds a strong sense of patriotism knowing he did his part to help serve his nation. Anyone who serves their country in his opinion is worthy of appreciation. In his own words, “Every veteran is special.”


His awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star with with Combat “V”, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 196th- Device. Commemorative awards include the Combat Action Commemorative Medal, Combat Service Commemorative Medal, U.S. Air Force Commemorative Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Overseas Service Commemorative Medal, Navy Service Commemorative Medal, Honorable Service Commemorative Medal, Honorable Discharge Commemorative Medal & the Seabee Commemorative Medal.

O'Banion who had all the same awards and more, was a scrapper, which was unusual in the Seabees, since the EOs Equipment Operators and CMs Construction Mechanics were usually considered the "Animals." When O'Banion got to Adak, after several more deployments to Vietnam, he was 2nd class, after getting busting from 1st Class for being to scrappy and getting in fights. He took a room in the Bering Hill upper barracks with the EOs and CMs, made 1st Class again. After being up there three months and still not getting housing for his family, because he got bumped back on the Housing waiting list, he got drunk and started fighting with EOs and CMs. He ended up putting a CM in a metal locker, then slide the locker to the back stairwell, and shoved it over. Down it went, and the CM got bruised up a bit, and as I recall broke a wrist. O'Banion got busted back to 2nd class, and finally got his wife and kids up there. I don't recall OB making 1st class again. He built a 22' George Calkins Bartender, and fished for Halibut, Cod and Salmon. After doing 20 years and retiring, he moved to Kansas, then to Texas and then to Joplin, Missouri. I was going to visit him, but the big man died in about 1999.

Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4

Cruise Book for NMCB 4 / without pics of combat - not wishing to upset families at home - for June '66 to June '67



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boomer

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Drew Dix is a decorated United States military veteran and retired major in the United States Army. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War; he was the first enlisted Special Forces soldier to receive the medal.

Dix was born in West Point, New York, and raised in Pueblo, Colorado.

Dix enlisted in the United States Army at age 18 in 1962, hoping to join the Special Forces. Initially turned down because of his young age, he spent three years serving with the 82nd Airborne Division before being accepted into the Special Forces at the age of 21. During this time, he served in Operation Power Pack, the United States military intervention in the Dominican Republic.

By 1968, Dix had reached the rank of staff sergeant, and was assigned as a military adviser to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in Chau Phu, South Vietnam, near the Cambodian border. On January 31, 1968, Viet Cong forces attacked Chau Phu in the first days of the Tet Offensive. Throughout that day and the next, Dix led groups of local fighters in rescuing endangered civilians and driving Viet Cong forces out of buildings in the city.

For these actions, Dix was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson during a ceremony at the White House on January 19, 1969. He is one of four Medal of Honor recipients from Pueblo, Colorado. In 1993, the Pueblo City Council adopted the tagline "Home of Heroes" for the city due to the fact that Pueblo can claim more recipients of the Medal per capita than any other city in the United States. On July 1, 1993, the Congressional Record recognized Pueblo as the "Home of Heroes." The other men were William J. Crawford, Raymond G. Murphy, and Carl L. Sitter.

Dix later received a direct commission to first lieutenant and retired as a major after 20 years of service. His last duty assignment was Executive Officer of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate), Fort Wainwright, Alaska, from 1981 to 1982.

The President of the United States in the name of the Congress takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Drew Dennis Dix United States Army for service as set forth in the following citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SSG. Dix distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while serving as a unit adviser. Two heavily armed Viet Cong battalions attacked the Province capital city of Chau Phu resulting in the complete breakdown and fragmentation of the defenses of the city. SSG. Dix, with a patrol of Vietnamese soldiers, was recalled to assist in the defense of Chau Phu. Learning that a nurse was trapped in a house near the center of the city, SSG. Dix organized a relief force, successfully rescued the nurse, and returned her to the safety of the Tactical Operations Center. Being informed of other trapped civilians within the city, SSG. Dix voluntarily led another force to rescue eight civilian employees located in a building which was under heavy mortar and small-arms fire. SSG. Dix then returned to the center of the city. Upon approaching a building, he was subjected to intense automatic rifle and machinegun fire from an unknown number of Viet Cong. He personally assaulted the building, killing six Viet Cong, and rescuing two Filipinos. The following day SSG. Dix, still on his own volition, assembled a 20-man force and though under intense enemy fire cleared the Viet Cong out of the hotel, theater, and other adjacent buildings within the city. During this portion of the attack, Army Republic of Vietnam soldiers inspired by the heroism and success of SSG. Dix, rallied and commenced firing upon the Viet Cong. SSG. Dix captured 20 prisoners, including a high ranking Viet Cong official. He then attacked enemy troops who had entered the residence of the Deputy Province Chief and was successful in rescuing the official's wife and children. SSG. Dix's personal heroic actions resulted in 14 confirmed Viet Cong killed in action and possibly 25 more, the capture of 20 prisoners, 15 weapons, and the rescue of the 14 United States and free world civilians. The heroism of SSG. Dix was in the highest tradition and reflects great credit upon the U.S. Army.





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boomer

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Robert Howard (July 11, 1939 – December 23, 2009) was the most highly decorated officer of Vietnam United States Army Special Forces and Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War.

He was wounded 14 times over 54 months of combat, was awarded the Medal of Honor, eight Purple Hearts, a Distinguished Service Cross,[a] a Silver Star, and four Bronze Stars.

He was nominated for the Medal of Honor three times over a 13-month period but received lesser medals for the first two nominations, which were for actions performed in Cambodia where the U.S. was fighting covertly. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on December 30, 1968, his third nomination.

He retired from the US Army after 36 years of service as a full colonel. He was one of the most decorated soldiers in the Vietnam War and was "said to be the most decorated service member in the history of the United States".


Howard enlisted in the Army in 1956 at Montgomery, Alabama and retired as colonel, Army Special Forces, in 1992.

Howard's service in Vietnam included assignments with 1/327th Airborne Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, 5th Special Forces Group and MACV-SOG

As a staff sergeant of the highly classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor on three occasions for three individual actions during thirteen months spanning 1967–1968. The first two nominations were downgraded to a Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross due to the covert and top secret nature of the operations in which Howard participated.

As a sergeant first class of the SOG, he risked his life during a rescue mission in Cambodia on December 30, 1968, while second in command of a platoon-sized Hatchet Force that was searching for missing American soldier Robert Scherdin for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He learned of the award over a two-way radio while under enemy fire, immediately after being wounded, resulting in one of his eight Purple Hearts.

Howard was wounded 14 times during a 54-month period in the Vietnam War. For his distinguished service, Howard received a direct appointment from Master Sergeant to First Lieutenant in December 1969.

Howard graduated from Ranger School class 7-73 in May 1973 and served with the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington as company commander. From 1977 to 1978 he served as Mountain Ranger Training instructor.

Howard later served as officer-in-charge of Special Forces training at Camp Mackall, near Ft. Bragg, N.C., and later, commanding the Mountain Ranger Training Camp at Dahlonega, Georgia

Howard graduated from the National War College, Class 1987–1988.

He received two master's degrees during his Army career which spanned 1956 to 1992. Howard retired as a colonel in 1992.

He was one of the most decorated soldiers in the Vietnam War. NBC News said that Howard may have been the most highly decorated American soldier of the modern era, while KWTX-TV states that he was "said to be the most decorated service member in the history of the United States". John Plaster in his 1998 book SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam states that Howard "remains to this day the most highly decorated American soldier." 

His residence was in Texas and he spent much of his free time working with veterans until the time of his death. He also took periodic trips to Iraq to visit active duty troops.

In 2014, Howard was announced as the recipient of United States Special Operations Command's Bull Simons award for his "lifetime achievements in Special Operations". In April 2017 a building at the Rowe Training Facility on Camp Mackall was named Howard Hall in his honor. Memorialized twice his legacy has been honored.

He died as a result of pancreatic cancer, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on February 22, 2010. He was survived by four children and five grandchildren.

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
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FIRST LIEUTENANT
ROBERT L. HOWARD
UNITED STATES ARMY
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then SFC .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam. The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer's equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant's belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 31⁄2 hours 1st Lt. Howard's small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard's gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
General Orders: Department of the Army, General Orders No. 16 (March 24, 1971)
Action Date: December 30, 1968
Service: Army
Regiment: 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Division: 1st Special Forces
The Greatest Hero America Never Knew




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boomer

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Marvin Glenn Shields (December 30, 1939 – June 10, 1965) was the first and only United States Navy Seabee to be awarded the Medal of Honor. He was also the first sailor to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty in the Vietnam War.

Marvin G. Shields was born December 30, 1939, in Port Townsend, Washington. He lived near Port Townsend on Discovery Bay in Gardiner, Washington. He graduated from Port Townsend High School in 1958 and had moved to Hyder, Alaska, where he worked at Mineral Basin Mining Company, a gold mining project started by Port Townsend company.

He joined the Navy on January 8, 1962, to be a Navy Seabee. He was assigned to the Naval Air Station at Glynco, Georgia for apprenticeship training in May which he completed in May 1963. In September, he was assigned to take Construction Mechanic training at the Naval Construction Training Center at Port Hueneme, California which he completed that month. Afterwards, he was assigned to Alfa Company, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 (NMCB-11). On November 18, he deployed to Okinawa and was assigned there until September 1964. On November 1, he was assigned to Seabee Team 1104, Naval Construction Battalion 11, and completed Seabee team training at Port Hueneme on January 22, 1965. The Seabee team consisted of nine Seabees including one officer.

Shields and Seabee Team 1104 deployed to Saigon, Republic of Vietnam arriving on February 1, 1965. On March 28, Seabee Team 1104 was assigned to construct a U.S. Army Special Forces Camp at Ben Soi, completing their construction work on June 3. Seabee Team 1104 was next assigned to a newly established Army Special Forces Camp at Dong Xoai about 55 miles northwest of Saigon arriving on June 4, to assist in repair and construction of the compound which included an adjacent compound with the district headquarters building. An 11-man Army Special Forces ("Green Berets") team ("A" Team 542) was in charge of the northern compound of Green Berets, Seabees, and 200 Montagnards. The adjacent compound was occupied by over 200 South Vietnamese Army soldiers.

On the night of June 9, 1965, the unfinished Army Special Forces Camp at Dong Xoai was mortared and attacked by the 272nd Vietcong Regiment (estimated over 2,000 uniformed Vietcong), and the Special Forces compound was overrun the next morning. After being wounded by mortar fire, Shields fought with Special Forces soldiers against the enemy carrying up needed ammunition to the firing line positions. Although wounded again by shrapnel and shot in the jaw on June 10, he helped a soldier and a Seabee carry the badly wounded Special Forces captain in charge of the camp to a safer position in the compound. After four more hours of fighting, and greatly weakened, Shields volunteered to help Special Forces Second Lieutenant Charles Q. Williams who now was the acting commander since the Special Forces commander was one of the first badly wounded in the battle, destroy a Vietcong machine gun outside the perimeter which was threatening to kill everyone now in the adjacent district headquarters building which was now under the lieutenant's command and its occupants holding off the Vietcong attackers from all sides. The lieutenant armed with a 3.5 rocket launcher which was loaded by Shields, destroyed the machine gun, and on the way back to the building Williams was wounded for the 4th time and Shields for the third time, shot in both legs. Shields was air-evacuated afterwards from Dong Xoai with five other Seabees by the direction of the lieutenant to Saigon on June 10 and died during the evacuation.

Two Seabees of Team 1104, Shields and SW2 William C. Hoover lost their lives and seven of his Seabee team were wounded in the first two days of the Battle of Dong Xoai (June 9–13). Three Army Special Forces soldiers were also killed, plus several members of other American military units and many members of South Vietnamese military units which partook in the battle were killed and wounded.

Shields was buried with a Marine Corps honor guard at Gardiner Cemetery, Gardiner, Washington on June 19, 1965. His name is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 02E, Row 007.

Shields was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor at a ceremony at the White House on September 13, 1966. His wife received the award from President Lyndon B. Johnson in the presence of his father, mother, daughter, and brother. Special Forces Lieutenant Williams was also present during the ceremony and had himself received the Medal of Honor on July 5, 1966, for his heroic actions during the 14-hour siege of the Special Forces Camp at Dong Xoai. All twenty of the Seabees and Special Forces soldiers were personally awarded for their actions at Dong Xoai.

Shields' other military decorations and awards include: the Purple Heart Medal with two Gold Stars, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two campaign stars, RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm, RVN Military Merit Medal, RVN Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with palm and frame, RVN Civil Actions Unit Citation with palm and frame, and RVN Campaign Medal with 1960- device.

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


CONSTRUCTION MECHANIC THIRD CLASS MARVIN G. SHIELDS
UNITED STATES NAVY

for service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with United States Navy Seabee Team 1104 at Dong Xoai, Republic of Vietnam, on 10 June 1965. Although wounded when the compound of Detachment A-342, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, came under intense fire from an estimated reinforced Viet Cong regiment employing machine gun, heavy weapons and small arms, Shields continued to resupply his fellow Americans with needed ammunition and to return the enemy fire for a period of approximately three hours, at which time the Viet Cong launched a massive attack at close range with flame throwers, hand grenades and small-arms fire. Wounded a second time during this attack, Shields nevertheless assisted in carrying a more critically wounded man to safety, and then resumed firing at the enemy for four more hours. When the Commander asked for a volunteer to accompany him in an attempt to knock out an enemy machine gun emplacement which was endangering the lives of all personnel in the compound because of the accuracy of its fire, Shields unhesitatingly volunteered for this extremely hazardous mission. Proceeding toward their objective with a 3.5-inch rocket launcher, they succeeded in destroying the enemy machine gun emplacement, thus undoubtedly saving the lives of many of their fellow servicemen in the compound. Shields was mortally wounded by hostile fire while returning to his defensive position. His heroic initiative and great personal valor in the face of intense enemy fire sustain and enhance the finest tradition of the United States Naval Service.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON

Yearly Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest (NAVFAC NW) and Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303, Detachment Bangor, hosts a Veterans Day ceremony paying tribute to Port Townsend native Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin Glenn Shields at his grave site in Gardiner Cemetery. The ceremony pays tribute to the only Seabee Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam veteran, Shields, who was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest military award for his actions taken and giving his life to save comrades while under enemy attack.

Our lives should never be so busy, that we forget to pause and remember to honor those that have served before us. Each year we gather as a proud Seabee family, a humbled military community and a grateful nation to reflect on the service of one of our own. May today not be a day of mourning but of celebration and may we be encouraged in our own service by one who gave his all, for his fellow Seabees and friends. We’re a small community and it means a lot to take this opportunity to honor one of our own, which allows us to also get together and experience the camaraderie that we all share.

May we be mindful that ‘with liberty and justice for all’ are not just words in a pledge, but a responsibility shared by all Americans to ensure that our communities know no stranger, but only brother and sister. May we join our voices together in proclaiming the legacy of all those who have served before us, to give freedom with peace for all and may we join our hands and our feet in delivering that message to a despairing, restless world as we journey together into a broader vision, a new direction, a greater hope.



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SloopJonB

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Years ago Smokey Smith, our last VC recipient, died. It sent me down a wormhole reading the citations of the recipients and then the CMH recipients.

HOLY SHIT! :eek:

If you want to read some stories that will truly terrify you, check them out. Some of them seem simply beyond the realm of human capability - flying planes with limbs shot off and so forth. Simply reading about it is terrifying, actually having experienced it is beyond comprehension.

Even more mind boggling is the fact that some people have been awarded more than one - in 156 years there have only been 1353 VC's awarded and 3 of them had bars (second awards).
 

boomer

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It is worth watching this 8 minute video,,,

Thats's a very tough position to attack from, when attacking up hill, and not sufficient cover. They should have brought in Hellstrike missles from a MQ-1 which were operational in Afghanistan by late Sept of '01, and was actually used to take out this bunker later in the day, followed by cleanup ops with gunships. On 4 March 2002, a CIA-operated Predator fired a Hellfire missile into a reinforced Taliban machine gun bunker that had pinned down an Army Ranger team whose CH-47 Chinook had crashed on the top of Takur Ghar Mountain in Afghanistan.

It bothered me to see his emotion, get in the way of exercising fundamentals and mental toughness - in that situation - he was pissed, I'm sure he knew he was bleeding out, passed out in a safe position, came to, made the decision and with intestinal fortitude, and what bit of blood and life he had left - he was going to take as many with him that he could.

I read elsewhere referring to this thread, about patriotism. Patriotism may have got them there, but they're not doing their job for patriotism, they're doing it for their guys, their platoon, their company, their battalion. They emphasize sticking to fundamentals, good decision making, proper tactics to deploy the strategy, and mental toughness - that's what get's you through a fight successfully, to return to fight another day.

Generally you don't expose yourself or stand up exposed in a fight. Always give yourself cover in a fight, but don't shoot from directly behind the cover, but back several yards if possible - this gives one an advantage of not being seen as well, and more real estate to cover in a fight. But for some, whom are fatalists, if they don't get taken out right away, figure it's not there day to day, and some are blessed, and don't get shot - however if one exposes oneself, the chances of taking hits, goes way up.

Old blood and guts, Sgt. Major John L Canley, who passed away this past May of 2022 was a fatalist, who would stand in the open in a fight - but he was the exception rather then the rule, he also did it to lead his men in a fight - fearlessly.


Fearless Part 1

Fearless Part 2




 
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boomer

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Captain Ed "Too Tall" Freeman made repeated flights into the Ia Drang Valley under intense fire to bring in supplies and evacuate the wounded. The battle was later dramatized in the film We Were Soldiers.

Freeman's official Medal of Honor citation reads:


Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force. When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights had a direct impact on the battle's outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, without which they would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life. After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers – some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements. Captain Freeman's selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.



Major Bruce Crandall made over 20 flights into intense enemy fire during a battle in the Ia Drang Valley, South Vietnam, in November 1965, evacuating 70 wounded and delivering ammunition.
On February 26, 2007, Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor by President George Bush for his actions at the Battle of la Drang.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Major Bruce P. Crandall distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as a Flight Commander in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). On 14 November 1965, his flight of sixteen helicopters was lifting troops for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam, to Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. On the fourth troop lift, the airlift began to take enemy fire, and by the time the aircraft had refueled and returned for the next troop lift, the enemy had Landing Zone X-Ray targeted. As Major Crandall and the first eight helicopters landed to discharge troops on his fifth troop lift, his unarmed helicopter came under such intense enemy fire that the ground commander ordered the second flight of eight aircraft to abort their mission. As Major Crandall flew back to Plei Me, his base of operations, he determined that the ground commander of the besieged infantry battalion desperately needed more ammunition. Major Crandall then decided to adjust his base of operations to Artillery Firebase Falcon in order to shorten the flight distance to deliver ammunition and evacuate wounded soldiers. While medical evacuation was not his mission, he immediately sought volunteers and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, led the two aircraft to Landing Zone X-Ray. Despite the fact that the landing zone was still under relentless enemy fire, Major Crandall landed and proceeded to supervise the loading of seriously wounded soldiers aboard his aircraft. Major Crandall's voluntary decision to land under the most extreme fire instilled in the other pilots the will and spirit to continue to land their own aircraft, and in the ground forces the realization that they would be resupplied and that friendly wounded would be promptly evacuated. This greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time. After his first medical evacuation, Major Crandall continued to fly into and out of the landing zone throughout the day and into the evening. That day he completed a total of 22 flights, most under intense enemy fire, retiring from the battlefield only after all possible service had been rendered to the Infantry battalion. His actions provided critical resupply of ammunition and evacuation of the wounded. Major Crandall's daring acts of bravery and courage in the face of an overwhelming and determined enemy are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.


 

dog of war

Member
400
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bay area
Christopher Baradat, Air Force Cross . This hero is the son of one of my best friends from HS. His dad Greg is a bad ass SF veteran also. We both joined the at at the same time in 81 I went to 1st Ranger BN and he went to 2nd BN. I did my 4 and got out he stayed and retired from the teams.


On April 6, 2013, SSgt. Christopher G. Baradat was sitting on alert for a quick reaction force (QRF) in Kunar province, one of the most notorious sanctuaries for Taliban and al Qaeda militants in all of Afghanistan. Baradat, a combat controller deployed with the 21st Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, and his team received a call that a group of 100 Afghan military and intelligence personnel had been ambushed and were pinned down in the Sono valley as they returned to base from an intelligence-gathering mission. Baradat’s QRF was tasked with fighting their way into the valley, connecting with the stranded team, and getting everyone back out again safely.
Over the next three hours, Baradat would call in decisive air support as part of the ground rescue team, directing more than a dozen 500-pound bombs and nearly 7,000 rounds of ammunition to hold off 100 enemy fighters spread over 13 different positions. Because of the steep canyon walls, he would be forced to step directly into the line of fire time and again in order to maintain line-of-sight communication with two AC-130s and six A-10s overhead.
“A lot of the difficulty was just coordinating between the different air assets that were coming in for strikes and having to move other aircraft out of the way or make sure that they weren’t in harm’s way,” Baradat said earlier this year.
The QRF comprised 29 US Special Forces and infantry personnel, 73 Afghan intelligence operators, and one American OGA, or Other Government Agency, advisor.
As the rescue team proceeded deep into the Sono valley, they realized that their four well-armored Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected All-Terrain Vehicles (M-ATVs) were simply too wide to pass between the steep, rocky walls. So the special operators cross-loaded into lightly armored trucks and proceeded into the valley, leaving the infantry members behind with the M-ATVs.
Still, the rocky terrain and the narrow road made progress slow. Concerned about the condition of the stranded party, Baradat and eight other team members left the vehicles and went forward on foot ahead of the convoy.
When they closed to within 1,000 meters of the pinned-down element, they started taking heavy machine gun fire from the ridgeline to the south. Through a flurry of bullets, they dashed another 200 meters to a nearby compound with a mud hut, where they could take cover. Baradat established communication with an A-10 Warthog overhead and directed 30 mm fire at the enemy to give his team space to keep moving forward.
As they closed to within 200 meters of the stranded party, the enemy returned with a vengeance. This time there were about 100 militants delivering rocket-propelled grenades along with machine gun fire. Snipers were also taking aim at the team from the ridges to keep them from reaching their cut-off comrades. The QRF team ducked inside another mud building for cover, and Baradat again began calling for close air support.
Now that he was deeper in the valley, however, Baradat found it was much more difficult to establish communication with overhead assets. Walls that were thick enough to provide cover from enemy bullets were thick enough to block his comms. He had A-10s and AC-130s positioned to bring critical fire to the fight, but he couldn’t tell them where to direct it.
Losing little time, Baradat left cover and planted himself in the compound’s courtyard to re-establish communication and direct air strikes against the adversaries closing in on his team. He also gained a much better view of enemy positions and was able to direct machine gun fire and 500-pound bombs with deadly accuracy. Despite the objections of his teammates and his team leader, Baradat remained in the open—braving wave after wave of bullets, with the dirt from the rounds spraying up against his body—to stay in contact with close air support.
The air strikes under Baradat’s control proved decisive in keeping the enemy at bay while his team reached the stranded element and escorted them back to the main convoy. Once the entire QRF was reunified, along with the rescued personnel, the full group presented an irresistible target. The militants opened fire on them again with full force.
As the convoy hurriedly prepared to move west out of the valley, Baradat was aware that he would need to maintain communications with close air support overhead to give his team a chance to make it out safely. He couldn’t do that from inside an armored M-ATV because the signal wouldn’t be strong enough and he wouldn’t have a choice view of the flanking enemy positions as his team egressed the valley.
So instead of taking his seat, Baradat jumped onto the running board of an M-ATV. One of his teammates grabbed onto his belt to secure his position as the vehicle made its way down the narrow valley road. Machine gun, rocket-propelled grenade, and sniper fire continued to pour down onto the convoy and the completely exposed Baradat.
At some points, the width of the valley left no more than two feet between the vehicle sides and the rock walls. With canyon rock scraping his back, head, and boot heels, Baradat was still directing A-10 and AC-130 strikes.
As the convoy approached the mouth of the valley, he noticed the trail vehicle had fallen behind. He left his perch on the running board, jumped to the valley floor, and charged through a hail of bullets toward the lagging element. With a better view of the enemy positions assaulting the vehicle, Baradat called in three 500-pound bombs to disrupt the militant fire and allow the vehicle to rejoin the convoy.
He then returned to his vehicle and jumped back on the running board as the entire convoy proceeded safely out of the valley. Through his courageous actions and willingness to put himself directly in harm’s way, Baradat helped save the lives of more than 200 US and Afghan team members.
Baradat’s commanding officer at the time was Col. Spencer Cocanour, currently commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Cocanour told Air Force Magazine he was most impressed by Baradat’s calm ability to sequence multiple close air support aircraft.
“He ends up Winchestering”—that is, completely emptying of all ordnance—“two AC-130s and six A-10s over the course of the engagement,” Cocanour explained. One of the AC-130s had to perform an ordnance “emergency resupply.”
At one point the enemy presence was so thick that Baradat requested a strike from a B-1 bomber. In all his deployments, Cocanour said, “it was the one time I actually heard someone request a B-1.” The colonel said, “He needed something that was carrying a whole lot of ordnance.” As it happened, a B-1 wasn’t available that day, so Baradat’s request went unfulfilled.
The special tactics airman was initially awarded a Silver Star for his actions in the Sono valley. But after a Department of Defense-wide review of medals received for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, his medal was upgraded to an Air Force Cross this past January.
The award is the highest service-specific honor for valor in combat, second only to the Medal of Honor. He is only the ninth airman to receive the Air Force Cross since Sept. 11, 2001.
Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein awarded the medal to Baradat at a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla., on April 20, 2017. Goldfein also presented an Air Force Cross to retired MSgt. Keary J. Miller that day, for actions Miller had taken, also in Afghanistan, 11 years before Baradat’s deeds. (See “Survival on Takur Gar,” August 2017.)
“You do what others cannot or will not do,” Goldfein told Baradat during the ceremony, “and you do it because it must be done—and because there is no one better.” He praised Baradat for his “remarkable humility” and for “the courage, the commitment, the sacrifice, the innovative spirit … brought to the battlefield.”
Before the ceremony, Baradat told reporters, “It was just very steep, rocky terrain so there was some difficulty in identifying where stuff was happening or coming at us from, so it just took some time to work through those issues.”
“Very unassuming,” is how Cocanour describes Baradat. “You would not pick him out” and say, “That guy’s an operator.”
That was certainly the case at his Air Force Cross ceremony. “We don’t do the kind of stuff that we do downrange for attention,” Baradat told reporters. “We do our job, and however we have to get it done, we do that.”
Cocanour was willing to say more. “Chris epitomizes the confidence and courage” of Air Force special tactics operators, he said.
Or, as Goldfein put it, Baradat’s heroism should remind us all that “there’s very little that we do without our ground battlefield airmen.” Goldfein told reporters, “We rely on our air commandos to actually gain the security we need to do our mission.”
 
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boomer

Super Anarchist
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At times one ignores the fundamentals and simply says we're not gonna die today. "That was where I needed to be standing to communicate with the aircraft and to get the mission done," he said in an interview from 2014.

The team was outnumbered and outgunned, Baradat knew it would only be a matter of time before the enemy had them surrounded.

That's why, with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Baradat left cover multiple times and exposed himself directly to enemy gunfire to communicate with the aircraft above and protect the team.

He did an incredibaly outstanding job under incredible circumstances, seamlessly integrating air power into a complex and dangerous ground mission. IMO - The medal should have been upgraded to a Medal of Honor.

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Israel Hands

Super Anarchist
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coastal NC
Michael E Thornton is a retired United States Navy SEAL and recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Vietnam War. He was awarded the medal for saving the life of his senior officer, Lieutenant Thomas R. Norris, who also earned the Medal of Honor in an unrelated incident.
One of my closest friends was Thornton's swim buddy in BUDS. Has his own set of medals as well, but like most of those guys doesn't talk a lot about it. Now they get together at reunions, knowing each one might be the last.
 

boomer

Super Anarchist
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1,716
PNW
Childhood classmate and friend who went in about a year and a half after I was in, sadly passed away in September of 2017.

Rick joined the Navy the following year in December after High School. After boot camp he attended Underwater Demolition Team replacement training and then spent several years of training for specific deployments and return for training for more special deployments with UDTs. Upon making it to a SEAL team, then underwent a SEAL Basic Indoctrination (SBI) training class at Camp Kerry. After SBI training class, then entered a SEAL platoon and conduct platoon training. He was in the first BUDS class of '75.

After four years, he decided not to make a career out it, got out and became a City of Redmond police officer, then later a detective here. After retiring he bought a condo in Hawaii, however he sold it a couple years ago, and moved back to the Redmond area of the PNW.

He was quite involved with the "Wounded Warriors Project." His family - wife, daughters and grandchildren meant a lot to him and he was quite devoted as a family man and his Christian faith. Other then that Rick exemplified the "Quiet Man."

Rick is survived by his wife Diane and daughters Heather & Karen, son in law and two grandkids.

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