Valor Pg 5
We know, love can be the ultimate resolve to valor.
We see valor played out on battlefields across the pages of history. Countless acts of bravery some of which were not on a battlefield.
We will witness the powerful acts of valor through many stories of these brave souls.
Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez c.1981
Awards: Medal of Honor; Purple Heart (5); Defense Meritorious Service Medal;
Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal
Master Sergeant Raul Perez "Roy" Benavidez (August 5, 1935 – November 29, 1998) was a member of theUnited States Army Special Forces (Studies and Observations Group) and retired United States Army Master Sergeant who received the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions in combat near Lộc Ninh, South Vietnam on May 2, 1968.
In 1965 he was sent to South Vietnam as an advisor to an Army of the Republic of Vietnam infantry regiment. He stepped on a land mine during a patrol and was evacuated to the United States, where doctors at Fort Sam Houston concluded he would never walk again and began preparing his medical discharge papers.
As Benavidez noted in his 1981 Medal of Honor acceptance speech, stung by the diagnosis, as well as flag burnings and media criticisms of the U.S. 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
"A devout Catholic, Benavidez was attending prayer services on May 22, 1968 when he heard a desperate radio plea, “Get us out of here! For God’s sake, get us out!” The cry for assistance came from a twelve-man Special Forces Recon Team that was pinned down in thick jungle and surrounded by a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regiment west of Loc Ninh."
On May 2, 1968, a 12-man Special Forces patrol, which included nine Montagnard tribesmen, was surrounded by a North Vietnamese 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 a North Vietnamese soldier accosted him and stabbed him with a bayonet. Benavidez pulled it out, yanked out his own knife, killed the North Vietnamese soldier and kept going, leaving his knife in the dead soldier's body.
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 spat in his face, alerting the doctor that he was alive.
The six-hour battle left Benavidez with seven major gunshot wounds, 28 fragmentation holes, and both his arms were slashed by a bayonet. He had fragments in his head, scalp, shoulder, buttocks, feet, and legs, his right lung was destroyed, and he had injuries to his mouth and back of his head from being clubbed with a rifle butt. A bullet shot from an AK-47 entered his back and exited just beneath his heart. Benavidez was evacuated to Fort Sam Houston's Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and he spent almost a year in hospitals recovering from his injuries.
Benavidez's commander felt that he deserved the Medal of Honor for his valor in saving eight lives, but he put Roy in for the Distinguished Service Cross because the process for awarding a Medal of Honor would have taken much longer, and his commander was sure Benavidez would die before he got it. The recommendation for the Distinguished Service Cross was rushed through approval channels. On September 10, 1968, while still recuperating from his wounds at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Roy was visited by General William Westmoreland, then the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, who presented the Distinguished Service Cross to Benavidez. Along with the Distinguished Service Cross, Benavidez also received a Purple Heart for his wounds. In 1969, he was assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, and in 1972 he was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, where he remained until his retirement from the Army.
Father Emil Kapaun
Father Emil Kapaun celebrating Mass using the hood of a jeep as his altar, October 7, 1950
Emil Joseph Kapaun (April 20, 1916 – May 23, 1951) was a Roman Catholic priest and United States Army captain who served as a United States Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. Kapaun was a chaplain in the Burma Theater of World War II, then served again as a chaplain with the U.S. Army in Korea, where he was captured. He died in a prisoner of war camp.
In 1993, Pope John Paul II declared him a Servant of God, the first stage on the path to canonization.
In 2013, Kapaun posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Korea. He is the ninth American military chaplain Medal of Honor recipient.
He was captured and taken prisoner by Chinese soldiers during the Battle of Unsan near Unsan, North Korea, on November 2, 1950. He and other members of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment taken prisoner were marched 87 miles (140 km) to a temporary prison camp at Sombakol near the permanent camp (Prison Camp 5) at Pyoktong, North Korea, where they were later held.
Kapaun was able to persuade some prisoners, who had ignored orders from officers, to carry the wounded. At the camps, he dug latrines, mediated disputes, gave away his own food, and raised morale among the prisoners. He was noted among his fellow POWs as one who would steal coffee and tea (and a pot to heat them in) from the guards. He also led fellow prisoners in acts of defiance and smuggled dysentery drugs to the doctor, Sidney Esensten.
Death and Burial
Kapaun developed a blood clot in one of his legs besides having dysentery and pneumonia. Weakened as the months passed, he managed to lead Easter sunrise service on Sunday, March 25, 1951.
He was so weak that the prison guards took him to a place in the Pyoktong camp they called the "hospital", which was really a place where he was left alone without any help and left to die of malnutrition and pneumonia on May 23, 1951. Kapaun was buried in a mass grave near the Yalu River.