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NOTE
: THE DEFINING GENERATION is a project begun by Doug and Pam Sterner in 2002 and completed in 2006. Initially is was prepared for publication as a book, however with their changing focus to development of a database of military awards, was postponed indefinitely so they could concentrate on that larger, more important work. The stories found herein however, need to be shared, and they have consented to make this compilation available in this format. While each story can stand alone, it is recommended that for continuity, readers will be best served by reading the chapters sequentially from first to last.

 

The Defining Generation

-

Defining Equality

Black Medal of Honor Heroes
Of the Vietnam War

In all, of the 246 Medals of Honor awarded to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines during the Vietnam war, 20 were bestowed upon Black heroes. The fact that not one Black defender of freedom in either of the World Wars received the Medal of Honor was corrected in the 1990s with belated presentation of one Medal of Honor to one World War I black soldier, and to seven from World War II. Even with that correction, it is obvious that during the Vietnam War, for the first time in our nation's history, great strides were made to correct this long-standing slight of our heroes:

 

War 

Total MOH Awards

Black
Recipients

Civil War

1522

25

2%

Indian Campaigns

426

18

4%

Peace Time Awards

193

9

5%

Spanish-Am. War

110

6

5%

World War I

124

1

1%

World War II

464

7

2%

Korean War

132

2

2%

Vietnam War

245

20

8%

 

It is probably an over-simplification to take men or women of the caliber of the 20 Black Vietnam War heroes and categorize them by ethnicity, or for that matter by any other category. They should be remembered for what they were--AMERICAN HEROES. That said, the parsing out of these 20 Black heroes does at the least, serve well to demonstrate the great strides towards equality of Black Americans during the War in Vietnam.

These 20 heroes came from a variety of backgrounds: North, South, East and West, from broken homes and stable families, from poor neighborhoods and hard-working middle class families. Among them you will find a few high school dropouts, far more high school graduates, and several college educated men. One of them subsequently ran afoul of the law; others rose to the pinnacles of their profession. All of them accomplished unbelievable and sacrificial deeds that deserve the highest platitudes we can bestow upon them. Only one, Clarence Sasser, is alive today.

 These twenty Black heroes represent a cross-section of America. Furthermore, they men provide vivid example of the fallacies of many so-called "facts" ascribed to the Vietnam Veteran:

        Fifteen of the 20 Black Medal of Honor recipients died in their moment of heroism, a casualty rate of 75%. That is only slightly higher than the 62% casualty rate of all 246 Vietnam War Medal of Honor heroes.

        The youngest Black recipient was 18-year old Milton Olive; the oldest was 39-year old Calvin Rogers. The average age of these 20 heroes at the time of their actions in Vietnam was 26.7 years of age.

        At least 15 of these men ENLISTED to answer the call of duty; they were VOLUNTEERS. Only TWO are specifically identified as having been drafted.

        Six of these heroes were "lowly" Privates First Class. Ten were seasoned Non-Commissioned Officers; four were Officers.

        Two of the twenty were highly trained medical aidmen. Two others were members of the Army's elite Special Forces.

 

All of them were dedicated Americans who served, sacrificed, and in most cases gave all that they had including their lives, in answer to the call of duty.

 

 

The Defining Generation: Copyright 2006 by Doug and Pam Sterner
All Rights Reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover & Introduction
     Preface
Out With the Old
     The Defining Generation

I. - Defining the New
     John Fitzgerald Kennedy
     Roger H.C. Donlon
     Robert Robin Moore
     Barry Sadler
     The Green Beret

II. - Defining Equality
     When Worlds Collide
     Dr. Martin Luther King
     Jimmy Stanford & Vince Yrineo
     Milton Lee Olive, III
     Specialist Lawrence Joel
     Sammy Lee Davis
     Black MOH Recipients - Vietnam War

III. - Defining the Role of the Sexes
     Evolution of a Husband
     Remember the Ladies
     Rosie the Riveter
     Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
     Linda G. Alvarado
     Karen Irene Offutt
     Women in Military Service
     Lieutenant General Carol Mutter
     The Modern Woman in Combat
IV. - Defining Human Rights
     My Brother's Keeper
     Who is My Brother
     Christopher Dodd & Christopher Shays
     Peace Corps Politicians (Memories)
     Don Bendell
     Sir Edward Artis
     General Colin L. Powell

V. - Defining Entertainment
     Life Imitating Art
     Troubled Waters
     Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
     Brian's Song
     All in the Family
     Adrian Cronauer

VI. - Defining Dissent

     From Berkeley With Love
     The Pen and the Sword
     General David Shoup
     Muhammad Ali
     John Forbes Kerry

VII. - Defining the Future of Politics
     An Act of Congress
     All Politics is....Hereditary?
     Hillary Rodham Clinton
     Condoleezza Rice
     James Henry Webb
The next Section is scheduled for posting on May 20, 2011
VIII. - Defining Memories
     Jaime Pacheco
     The Glory of their Deeds
     Jan Scruggs
     Delbert Schmeling
     Peter C. Lemon

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
The authors extend our thanks to the following who granted personal interviews for this work
: Roger Donlon (MOH), Robin Moore, Don Bendell, Jimmy Stanford, Vince Yrineo, Sammy L. Davis (MOH), Linda Alvarado, Karen Offutt, Lieutenant General Carol Mutter, Sir Edward Artis, General Colin L. Powell, Katharine Houghton, Adrian Cronauer, Jan Scruggs, Delbert Schmeling, and Peter Lemon (MOH).
Our thanks to the staff of the following who either wrote or allowed reprint of their own works for this book: Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard, Don Bendell, Congressman Sam Farr, Congressman Thomas Petri, Congressman Mike Honda, Congressman Jim Walsh, Governor Jim Doyle, and Scott Baron.
Our special thanks also to the staff of the following who provided information and fact-checked the chapters related to their subject: Staff of Senator John Kerry, Staff of (then) Senator Hillary Clinton, Staff of Senator Jim Webb
A SPECIAL THANKS also to Dr. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard for his assistance in writing and editing the entire section on the Role of the Sexes.

 

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