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Above & Beyond

These pages are the results of a Medal of Honor research project by Eighth Graders at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Ville Platte, Louisiana.  Each student in the class adopted a Medal of Honor recipient from our Nation's history, researched his life, and then wrote the story you see here.

 Vietnam War 

William E. Adams

Major William E. Adams made himself a nation wide hero on May 25,1971.  His great skill as a pilot, his bravery, and his great selflessness all helped him achieve the most honorable title there is --a hero.  To do this, Major Adams, while serving as a helicopter pilot in Kontum Province in the Republic of Vietnam, volunteered to fly a lightly armed helicopter in an attempt to rescue three wounded soldiers in a base that was under heavy fire.  Even though he knew the extreme danger in which he was putting himself, he courageously flew down to get them through heavy machine gun fire.  He very skillfully landed his helicopter on the base, and waited for the soldiers to be loaded on board.  As his helicopter was leaving, it was seriously damaged.  Despite the fact that the helicopter was greatly damaged, using his great skill, he was still able to regain control of the aircraft.  While attempting to make an emergency landing, the helicopter, unfortunately, exploded, overturned, and plummeted towards the earth.  

Even though Major Adams did not make it back alive with the three rescued soldiers, I think that he is still definitely worthy of receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor. Because of his bravery and selflessness, Major William E. Adams set an example for all people to follow.  He is a true hero and an inspiration for all generations.


James Anderson, Jr.

Private First Class James Anderson entered the United States Armed Forces at Los Angeles, California.  He applied to the United States Marine Corps, 2nd Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division.  During a tour of duty in Vietnam, Pfc. Andersonís Company F was advancing forward into the dense jungle northwest of Cam Lo, Vietnam in an effort to extract a heavily besieged reconnaissance patrol.  Private Andersonís platoon was in the lead and had advanced only about 200 meters when they were brought under extremely intense enemy small-arms and automatic weapons fire.  The platoon realized too late that they had advanced to within 20 meters of the enemy position.  The firefight continued for some time and several members of Pfc. Andersonís platoon had been wounded. 

Without warning, an enemy grenade landed amongst the marines and came to rest alongside Pfc. Andersonís head. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his personal safety, Pfc. Anderson pulled the grenade to his chest and curled around it as it went off. Even though some of his fellow Marines received minor wounds, Pfc. Andersonís body absorbed the major force of the explosion. He gallantly and without hesitation gave his life for his country.

For Pfc. Andersonís heroism, extraordinary valor, his actions above and beyond the call of duty, and the ultimate sacrifice of his life, he was awarded the Marine Corps Congressional Medal of Honor.  In my opinion, he was very worthy of receiving this medal because he gave his life for his friends and his country.  I would be honored to have him as my friend.


Richard Anderson

Lance Corporal Richard A. Anderson was serving as an assistant team leader with Company E on August 24, 1969, in the Vietnam War in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy. While conducting a patrol in the early morning hours, Lance Corporal Andersonís reconnaissance team came under a heavy volume of automatic weapons and machine gun fire, from an outnumbering superior and well concealed enemy force.  Although shot in both legs and knocked down to the ground during the initial phase of the fierce fight, Lance Corporal Anderson assumed a prone position and continued to deliver intense suppressive fire in an attempt to drive back the enemy.  Moments later, he was wounded a second time by an enemy that had approached within eight feet from him. He continued to fire at the enemy even while he was being treated. Observing a grenade land between him and another marine, Anderson unhesitatingly rolled over it absorbing the full impact. 

I think that Lance Corporal Richard Anderson is a true American hero because he gave up his life to save another per- sonís life in combat for our country. This is truly an unselfish act and he should be recognized by future generations.


Webster Anderson

I chose Staff Sergeant Ē Webster Anderson as the most inspiring recipient of the Medal of Honor because he was a very brave man.  He set aside his own injuries and suffering in order to save others.  On October 15, 1967, a North Vietnamese Army unit attacked him and his men.  He positioned himself behind a howitzer.  Even after a grenade wounded both his legs, he continued to fight.  He also encouraged the other men to continue fighting.  When an enemy grenade landed in the gun pit, Sergeant Anderson picked it up and attempted to throw it away in order to save his men. The grenade exploded, again wounding Sgt. Anderson.  He refused medical evacuation even though by now he was severely wounded.  Barely conscious, he was able to maintain the defensive position and defeat the enemy.  Eventually, he lost both legs and part of one arm to the injuries he sustained, but he did survive.

Sgt. Anderson never stopped fighting in order to save himself; he continued to act responsible for the other men in his unit.  He was totally unselfish and a good leader. He thought more about helping the others than just about saving himself.


Oscar P. Austin

Oscar P. Austin was born on January 15, 1948 in Nacogdoches, Texas.  He entered the service at Phoenix, Arizona. He was a Private First Class in the United States Marine Corps. He was serving as an assistant machine gunner with Company E.  In the early morning, Pfc. Austinís observation post was attacked by a large North Vietnamese force.  He saw an unconscious companion, hazardously close to firing.  Pfc. Austin implicitly left his safe position and dashed across the battlefield to help the marine to a safe position.  As he got closer, he saw an enemy grenade land nearby.  He immediately jumped between the injured marine and the deadly object.  As a result, he consumed the effects of its explosion.  He ignored his grievous injuries and turned to assist the wounded man.  As he was doing so, he saw a North Vietnamese soldier aiming his weapon toward his unconscious companion.  

Pfc. Austin audaciously threw himself between the injured man and the enemy soldier with full knowledge of what would happen.  By his fearless and dauntless actions, he was mortally wounded.  He was only 21 years old at the time of his death.  For these courageous actions, he received the Medal of Honor.  

I think that he is a great American hero because he gallantly gave his life for his country and the safety of his fellow men.  I admire him because he went above and beyond the call of duty.  He did not have to do what he did, but chose to do what he knew was right.


Steven Logan Bennett

I have chosen Capt. Bennett because of his conspicuous bravery during the Vietnam War.  He was the pilot of a light aircraft flying an artillery adjustment mission along a heavily defended route structure.  Capt. Bennett asked for air support but he was advised that there was not to be given.  After many passes the enemy started to retreat, but Capt. Bennett was still attacking them.  After five such passes Capt. Bennettís aircraft was struck by an enemy bullet, which severely damaged the left engine and the left main landing gear.  As the fire spread, he realized that recovery at an airfield was impossible. He instructed his observer to prepare for ejection, but was informed by the observer that the parachute had been shredded.  Capt. Bennett gave his good parachute to the observer and he successfully made it out of the aircraft and was rescued.  Capt. Bennett tried the unthinkable when he elected to ditch the aircraft into the Gulf of Tonkin.  The aircraft did cartwheels, which made it impossible for him to escape and he was killed performing his duties to the United States Air Force.  

I chose this Medal of Honor recipient because of the bravery that he had and because he risked his own life for the life of his companion.  He is also a native of the state of Louisiana and I am proud to say that I am too.  This man inspired me with his conspicuous bravery above and beyond the call of duty.


Ronald L. Coker

Private First Class Ronald L. Coker was in the US Marine Corps, Company M, and 3rd Marine Division.  He was born on August 9, 1947, in Alliance, Nebraska.  The action that earned him the Medal of Honor took place in Quang Tri Province in the Republic of Vietnam on March 24, 1969.  PFC Coker was serving as the point man for the 2nd Platoon. 

While leading his patrol he encountered five enemy soldiers along the jungle trail.  When the squad got closer to a cave along that trail, it came under intense hostile fire, wounding one marine and forcing the others to take cover immediately.  PFC Coker disregarded what was happening and crawled across the fire swept terrain to his wounded companion.  Although wounded himself, he continued to crawl across the hazardous area and threw a hand grenade into the enemy positions.  By staying down under the enemy fire, was able to reach the wounded marine.  As he began to drag his injured comrade toward safety, an enemy grenade landed on the wounded marine.  Coker grabbed the grenade with both hands, it exploded as he threw it, injuring him severely.  PFC Cokerís heroic deed inspired his fellow marines into such aggressive action that the enemy fire was suppressed and he was able to get the wounded marine to safety.  He was given first aid as well and soon removed to safety and a hospital.  

I admire Private First Class Ronald Coker because he was a very brave man and a devoted soldier who put the safety of another before himself.  He had become known as one who cared for his comrades, and in a most dramatic way, he had shown that he would not abandon them.  I believe that he was a most deserving recipient of the Medal of Honor.


Rodney Maxwell Davis

Sgt. Rodney Maxwell Davis received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the right guide of the 2nd platoon, Company B, in action against enemy forces in Vietnam.  Elements of the 2nd platoon were pinned down by a numerically superior force of attacking North Vietnamese Army Regulars.  Only a few members of the platoon were located in a trench line where Sgt. Davis was distracting enemy fire away from his men.  

Disregarding the enemy hand grenades and high volume of small arms and mortar fire, he moved from man to man keeping their spirits high, throwing grenades at the enemy.  Then an enemyís grenade landed in the proximity of his men.  Realizing the gravity of the situation he threw himself upon the grenade to save his men, absorbing the full force of the explosion and protecting his men.  Through total extraordinary initiative and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, Sgt. Davis saved his comrades from injury and possible loss of life, enabling his platoon to hold its vital position, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.  He bravely gave his life for his country.  

Out of all the citations I have read, this is the most fascinating because I canít believe someone would throw their body on a grenade to save their friends.  This person was very courageous, to sacrifice himself for God and country.


George E. Day

On August 1967, George E. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire.  His right arm was broken in three places and left knee was badly sprained.  He was immediately captured and taken to a prison camp, where he was interrogated and severely tortured.  When the guards were not looking he broke-out and escaped into the jungle.  He headed south toward South Vietnam. 

Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb from nearby, he continued south surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs.  Due to delirium from the bombís loud noise, he lost his sense of direction and aimlessly wandered for several days.  He was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh.  He was tortured more and could not even perform the simplest task for himself.  He was still tortured and did not tell any of the Air Forceís secrets.  

I think that he did the unbelievable by sustaining all of that torture that he received, and to survive in the jungle on frogs and berries is amazing.  Mr. Day is a true hero in my eyes.  It is just so incredible that he was just a regular person that did the outstanding feat and lived to tell the story.  That is why we honor him for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life Ēabove and beyond the call of duty.Ē



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