Honoring Vietnam Heroes on Medal of Honor Day
On this Medal of Honor Day, we honor our nation’s bravest and most courageous veterans. The Medal of Honor is the highest distinction that can be awarded by the President of the United States, in the name of the Congress, to members of the U.S. armed forces who have distinguished themselves by going above and beyond the call of duty, risking their lives while exhibiting intrepidity and valor.
This special day is marked annually on March 25, when the first Medal of Honor was presented to Private Jacob Parrott, who was a part of Andrew’s Raiders. The Andrew’s Raiders were involved in the Great Locomotive Chase, a daring military mission breaching Confederate lines during the Civil War. Since then, only 3,493 Medals of Honor have been awarded to members of all services.
258 Vietnam veterans were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during Vietnam. More than 150 were posthumously awarded, and have their names inscribed on The Wall of those who gave all for their country during the Vietnam War. These brave veterans displayed qualities of duty, honor, service, and courage. They gave themselves honorably, just like the more than 58,000 who are etched beside them on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Their heroism cost them their life, to which the comrades they saved and their families remain grateful to this day.
At a time when America fought in one of the most divisive wars in its nation’s history, Vietnam veterans were no different than the soldiers who came before them. They were simply answering when their country called upon them to serve.
During The Vietnam War, African-Americans displayed exemplary accomplishments during which approximately twenty received the Medal of Honor. One was Eugene Ashley Jr., a United States Army Special Forces soldier who led 5 assaults against the enemy, often exposing himself to grenades and automatic weapons fire on Feb. 7, 1968. During the fifth assault, he adjusted air strikes that allowed for friendly control of the hill at Camp Lang Vei, and continued his mission despite being seriously wounded. His valiant actions carved a channel through which the survivors eventually escaped to freedom. Sfc. Ashley was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on December 2, 1969.
U.S. Marine Rodney M. Davis was posthumously awarded
the Medal of honor for his heroism in Vietnam that cost him his life on September 6, 1967. Sgt. Davis’ platoon was surprised by a large North Vietnamese force. Most of the platoon was pinned down in a trench line by heavy fire. When an enemy hand grenade landed in the trenches, he threw himself upon the grenade without hesitation, saving his fellow Marines and allowing his platoon to hold their vital position.
Their stories range from tragic and overwhelming, to shocking and unbelievable. Their experiences in war humble us as we hear them.
Presenting this honor to our Vietnam veterans is a momentous occasion that is not yet over. In March of 2014, President Obama righted wrongs by awarding eight recipients,
three living from the Vietnam War, with the military’s highest honor. These veterans were previously overlooked because of racial prejudice and bias. And in September of the same year, two Vietnam veterans, one living and one killed in action, were recognized for individually leading fellow soldiers through a harrowing battle and holding onto a grenade to save soldiers in close contact.
The vision of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is to ensure a society in which all who have served and sacrificed in our nation’s Armed Forces are properly honored and receive the recognition they justly deserve. Honoring our bravest veterans should not be reserved to just one day and a special event honoring our nation’s heroes will take place on Memorial Day of 2015. As part of the ceremony, the United States Postal Service will dedicate the 2015 Medal of Honor: Vietnam Forever® stamps. These stamps will honor those who distinguished themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.” The event is free and open to the public. This year’s keynote speaker will feature Medal of Honor recipient Jack Jacobs.
To RSVP to the 2015 Memorial Day at The Wall, click here.
This Medal of Honor Day, don’t forget to thank our military men and women and remember our selfless heroes, who went above the call to serve.