National Medal of Honor Day – March 25

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
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Dear Friend,

Medal of HonorAt a moment in time, these men dug deep into their heart and soul. They exhibited extraordinary courage as they selflessly risked their own life to protect their comrades.

They earned our nation’s highest military medal – the Medal of Honor.

During the Vietnam War, 246 heroes were awarded the Medal of Honor, 155 posthumously. The Medal of Honor was created by an Act of Congress and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in December, 1861. March 25 was selected as the date for National Medal of Honor Day because it was on this date in 1863 that the medal was first awarded to six soldiers.

“Any nation that does not honor its heroes
will not long endure.”
– President Lincoln

VVMF chose 2011 – the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Medal of Honor – as the year to express our profound respect to all recipients of this medal.

Please join me in taking a few moments to think about warriors like these two men whose stories I want to share with you. They both posthumously received the Medal of Honor and were killed in action on September 4, 1967 in the same battle: Operation Swift in Quang Tin Province.

Lawrence David Peters

Lawrence David Peters, Sgt, USMC (honored onPanel 25E, Row 108): He volunteered for a second tour in Vietnam. As a squad leader for Mike Company his unit came under intense fire from an entrenched enemy position. Peters maneuvered his squad in an assault on an enemy defended knoll. Enemy rounds hit all about him yet he stood in the open pointing out enemy positions until painfully injured in the leg from mortars. He continued to lead his men forward.

They became temporarily pinned down and he exposed himself to devastating enemy fire to consolidate their position and to render more effective fire. He was wounded a second time from a mortar round. When the enemy attempted to infiltrate the position of an adjacent platoon, Peters stood erect without cover and fired burst after burst. This forced the enemy to disclose their camouflaged positions. He continued firing until critically hit in his chest by a gunshot. Although he couldn’t walk or stand he continued to direct his squad and was hit by enemy fire two more times. Finally he lost consciousness and succumbed to his extensive wounds.

Vincent R. Capodanno

Vincent R. Capodanno, LT, Chaplain, USN (honored on Panel 25E, Row 95): One of the gentle heroes of Vietnam, he was affectionately known to the Marines as the Grunt Padre. While visiting Mike Company on patrol, they were struck with mortars and automatic weapons fire. He jumped out of his hole to answer the cries of wounded Marines screaming for help. He began praying with the wounded and giving the last rites. A mortar round injured his arms and legs and blew off part of his right hand. He refused medical aid and kept moving among the wounded and dead. Finally he saw a wounded corpsman in the line of fire of an enemy machine gunner. LT Capodanno dared to help the mortally wounded corpsman 15 yards away. Within inches of his goal he was struck down by machine gun fire. He was last seen alive praying over a dead man.

Two men different in so many ways. Yet what they had in common was not hesitating to place the needs of another before themselves. They repeatedly risked their lives to help others which resulted in their deaths. Courage, selflessness, patriotism and sacrifice are values that unite all Medal of Honor recipients. We’re free because of the sacrifices they made. God bless all these heroes. And God bless you for taking a few moments of silence to say thank you, and to think about their sacrifices.

Sincerely,

Jan C. Scruggs
Founder and President

P.S. Since the beginning of the Civil War, 40 million veterans have served in the Armed Forces. Fewer than 3,500 have been awarded the Medal of Honor. It’s a hard-earned medal.

Recipients distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Far too often it is awarded posthumously. If you wish to recognize their gallantry further, a gift in their honor would be most appreciated.

Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War. Authorized by Congress, its most recent initiative is building The Education Center at The Wall, an underground facility near the Memorial that is designed to add faces to all the names on The Wall and tell their stories to future generations. Other Memorial Fund initiatives include educational programs for students and teachers, and a traveling Wall replica.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund | 2600 Virginia Avenue, NW Suite 104 | Washington, D.C. 20037
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