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An American Hero, A Texas Son

Memorial Day 2017

“They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this nation.” — Henry Ward Beecher

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

My email inbox is flooding with ‘Memorial Day Sale!!!’ alerts and every other commercial on the DISH is screaming the same same.  I can tell ya right now I ain’t buying nothing – no way -no how.  Memorial Day is not some big hurrah sale event, OK? Christ on a Cracker,  I swear inane shit like this is becoming most annoying in my old age.  This is a somber holiday of remembrance.  Please observe it as such por favor………… And hey! You kids get off my lawn!

A startling reality settles on me this Memorial Day.  My BFF Cait only knows a country that has been at war her entire adult life. And to double down; her career choice was the United States Air Force. She is not the only member of close family to have served. My Boy and My Bro’s oldest are also members of the military fraternity.

Honor, integrity, courage, loyalty and commitment are just some of the core values that define the U.S. Armed Forces.  While these are also universal American values, we expect a higher degree of fidelity from men and women in uniform. Since the earliest ceremonies in small American towns following the War of Northern Aggression, we have gathered on Memorial Day to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. As in those early days of laying wreaths and placing flags, our national day of remembrance is often felt most deeply among the families and communities who have personally lost friends and loved ones.

This national holiday may also be the unofficial start of the summer season, but all Americans must take a moment to remember the sacrifice of our valiant military service members, first responders and their families. Memorial Day is a day of both celebration and grief, accounting for the honor of our heroes and reflecting on their tragic loss.

So before you head out to a a barbecue, a parade or the lake – give me 30 minutes of your time to tell you a story.  I guarantee you will look at your long weekend differently when you are done here.

*********************

Raul Perez “Roy” Benavides was born on a farm outside Cuero, Dewitt County, South Texas on August 5, 1935.  Roy Benavidez died on November 29, 1998, at the age of 63 at Brooke Army Medical Center, having suffered respiratory failure and complications of diabetes.  What happened in those 63 years is what Paul Harvey would famously call The Rest of the Story.

Roy Benavides served two tours in Vietnam as a Green Beret.  During his second tour in 1968 he would be involved in an enemy action for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

In 1973, after more detailed accounts became available, Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel Ralph R. Drake insisted that Benavidez receive the Medal of Honor. By then, however, the time limit on the medal had expired. An appeal to Congress resulted in an exemption for Benavidez, but the Army Decorations Board denied him an upgrade of his Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor. The Army board required an eyewitness account from someone present during the action; however, Benavidez believed that there were no living witnesses of the “Six Hours in Hell.”

Unbeknownst to Benavidez, there was a living witness, who would later provide the eyewitness account necessary: Brian O’Connor, the former radioman of Benavidez’s Special Forces team in Vietnam. O’Connor had been severely wounded (Benavidez had believed him dead), and he was evacuated to the United States before his superiors could fully debrief him.

O’Connor had been living in the Fiji Islands when, in 1980, he was on holiday in Australia. During his holiday O’Connor read a newspaper account of Benavidez from an El Campo newspaper, which had been picked up by the international press and reprinted in Australia. O’Connor immediately contacted Benavidez and submitted a ten-page report of the encounter, confirming the accounts provided by others, and serving as the necessary eyewitness; Benavidez’s Distinguished Service Cross accordingly was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

On February 24, 1981, President Ronald Reagan presented Roy P. Benavidez with the Medal of Honor. Reagan turned to the press and said, “If the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it”. He then offered up a heartfelt speech and read the official award citation:

“Men and women of the Armed Forces, ladies and gentlemen:

Several years ago, we brought home a group of American fighting men who had obeyed their country’s call and who had fought as bravely and as well as any Americans in our history. They came home without a victory not because they’d been defeated, but because they’d been denied permission to win.

They were greeted by no parades, no bands, no waving of the flag they had so nobly served. There’s been no “thank you” for their sacrifice. There’s been no effort to honor and, thus, give pride to the families of more than 57,000 young men who gave their lives in that faraway war.

As the poet Laurence Binyon wrote, “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.” Pride, of course, cannot wipe out the burden of grief borne by their families, but it can make that grief easier to bear. The pain will not be quite as sharp if they know their fellow citizens share that pain.

There’s been little or no recognition of the gratitude we owe to the more than 300,000 men who suffered wounds in that war. John Stuart Mill said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing which he cares about more than his personal safety is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Back in 1970 Kenneth Y. Tomlinson wrote of what he had seen our young men do beyond and above the call of military duty in Vietnam, a marine from Texas on his way in at dawn from an all-night patrol stopping to treat huge sores on the back of an old Vietnamese man, an artilleryman from New Jersey spending his free time stacking sandbags at an orphanage to protect the children from mortar attacks, an Army engineer from California distributing toys he’d bought in Hong Kong to the orphans his unit had adopted. One senior military officer told Tomlinson, “My hardest task is keeping track of the incurable humanitarianism of our troops.”

None of the recent movies about that war have found time to show those examples of humanitarianism. In 1969 alone, United States Army volunteers helped construct 1,253 schools and 597 hospitals and dispensaries, contributing $300,000 from their own pockets. Marines from the Third Amphibious Force helped build 268 classrooms, 75 dispensaries, 78 churches, temples, and pagodas. Marines contributed $40,000 to ensure an education for 935 children. Air Force men gave their money and their own labor to 1,218 schools, medical facilities, and orphanages. Air Force doctors, dentists, and medics treated 390,000 Vietnamese in volunteeer programs.

At Hoa Khanh, Children’s Hospital treated in that one year some 16,000 children, many of whom might have died without the hospital. One of the finest and most modern in the Far East, it was built and financed with money raised by combat marines. An l 1-year-old boy burned over three-quarters of his body was one of those saved. He interrupted the game he was playing with visiting marines to say, “All my life, I will never forget this place and these healing people. Some way, I will repay them.”

A 27-year-old chaplain from Springfield, Missouri, came upon an orphanage where 60 children were sleeping on the floor of a school and subsisting on one or two bowls of rice a day. He told some men of the American Division’s Fifth Battalion, 46th Infantry, about what he’d seen. A veteran sergeant said, “Don’t worry, Chaplain. Those kids have just got themselves some new parents.” And they had.

Army combat troops began sacking enemy food they had captured and shipping them back on returning helicopters. They found cots in a salvage dump, repaired them, and soon the children were sleeping in beds for the first time. One day, the cup was passed. Marines earmarked 10 percent of all poker winnings, and by the end of the year, the orphans were in a new building.

An Air Force pilot saw 240 lepers living in unimaginable filth. Soon there were volunteers from all branches of the military spending their weekends building houses at a hospital.

The stories go on and on. A Green Beret learned that a mother in a remote mountain village was having trouble in childbirth. He made his way to her home, carried her to a truck, and raced to Cam Ranh, where a Navy doctor delivered the baby. On Christmas he gave 1,500 orphans toothpaste, soap, candy, and nuts he’d collected from fellow servicemen.

Bob Hope, who visited our men there as he had in two previous wars, said of them, “The number of our GI’s who devote their free time, energy, and money to aid the Vietnamese would surprise you.” And then he added, “But maybe it wouldn’t. I guess you know what kind of guys your sons and brothers and the kids next door are.” Well, yes, we do know. I think we just let it slip our minds for a time. It’s time to show our pride in them and to thank them.

In his book, “The Bridges of Toko-Ri,” novelist James Michener writes movingly of the heroes who fought in the Korean conflict. In the book’s final scene an admiral stands on the darkened bridge of his carrier waiting for pilots he knows will never return from their mission. And as he waits he asks in the silent darkness, “Where did we get such men?” Almost a generation later, I asked that same question when our POW’s were returned from savage captivity in Vietnam: “Where did we find such men?” We find them where we’ve always found them, in our villages and towns, on our city streets, in our shops, and on our farms.

I have one more Vietnam story, and the individual in this story was brought up on a farm outside of Cuero in De Witt County, Texas, and he is here today. Thanks to the Secretary of Defense, Cap Weinberger, I learned of his story, which had been overlooked or buried for several years. It has to do with the highest award our Nation can give, the Congressional Medal of Honor, given only for service above and beyond the call of duty.

Secretary Weinberger, would you please escort Sergeant Benavidez forward.”

*********************

The Medal of Honor Citation

BENAVIDEZ, ROY P.
Rank and organization: Master Sergeant. Organization: Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group, Republic of Vietnam
Place and date: West of Loc Ninh on May 2, 1968
Entered service at: Houston, Texas June 1955
Born: August 5, 1935, DeWitt County, Cuero, Texas.

President Ronald Reagan awards the Medal of Honor to MSG Roy Benavides

Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. BENAVIDEZ United States Army, distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam.On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire.

Sergeant BENAVIDEZ was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters, of the 240th Assault Helicopter Company, returned to off-load wounded crew members and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant BENAVIDEZ voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team.

Prior to reaching the team’s position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team’s position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy’s fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader.

When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant BENAVIDEZ mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy’s fire and so permit another extraction attempt.

He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from behind by an enemy soldier. In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, he sustained additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary.  He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded.

Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant BENAVIDEZ’ 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. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.

*********************

In 1976, Benavidez, his wife, and their three children returned home to El Campo, Texas. He devoted his remaining years to the youth of America, speaking to them about the importance of staying in school and getting an education. His message was simple: “An education is the key to success. Bad habits and bad company will ruin you.”   This speech is from 1991.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.  Muchas gracias, like they say in Spanish, in German danke schon, in Japanese arigato ne, and in French merci beaucoup.  Thank you very much.

I don’t speak those languages fluently but I never get lost in those countries if ever I go there.  Thank you very much to the Million Dollar Round Table for inviting me to come and be along with these other eloquent speakers.

I come from a little town named Cuero, Texas.  I was born there, the “turkey capital of the world.”  After the death of my mother and father, at an early age, my brother and I were adopted by an aunt and uncle.  We moved to El Campo, Texas, [a] town southwest of Houston, about an hour and a half.  I was raised there. I went to school there.  I worked at odd jobs there — shined shoes, sold papers, picked cottons.  And like a fool, I dropped out of school and I ran away from home.  I’m not proud of that.

I needed to learn a skill.  I needed an education.  My adoptive father would tell me, “Son, an education and a diploma is the key to success.  Bad habits and bad company will ruin you.”  Well, I was too old to go back to school and did not want to return back, so I joined the Texas National Guard.  And I liked what I saw in men in uniform.  And I qualified to join the regular army.  I needed to have education and learn a skill.  So I was accepted into the regular army and I heard about the Airborne.  I heard about that extra pay that you get for jumping out of airplanes.  So, I qualified to go to jump school at Fort Benning, Georgia but the darn recruiters never told me what the training was like.  For every mistake that you make, you do pushups; and I can honestly tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I’m one of the guys that helped to put Georgia into South Carolina doing pushups.

Well, I finished my training.  I got assigned to a well-known unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 82nd Airborne Division.  I liked — thank you.  Airborne all the way.  I like that.  And so, after awhile there, [I] heard about the Special Forces.  You know it as the Green Berets. And they were coming up.  So I qualified to join the Special Forces.  Course, I’m a linguist.  We in the Special Forces are trained to operate deep behind enemy lines with little or no support at all.  We are trained in five specialties.  I’m trained in three: operations and intelligence, where I learned oceanography, meteorology, and photography.  I’m an interrogator and I’m a linguist.  I’m trained in light and heavy weapons and cross-trained as a medic.

I’ve been all over the world: the Far East, Europe, South and Central America, and two tours in Vietnam.  I was assigned to Berlin, in Germany, and I have declared one time that I was the only the Hispanic-American that could speak German with a southern accent…Danke schon.  So, I came back and retrained at Fort Bragg, and Vietnam was brewing up.

In 1965, I was sent to Vietnam as an advisor to [a] Vietnamese infantry unit.  After a short period of time there, I stepped on a mine.  I woke up in the Philippine Islands, in Clark Air Force Base.  I was paralyzed from the waist down.  I was declared never to walk again.  I was transferred to Fort Sam, Houston, Texas, Beach Pavilion.  The doctors were initiating my medical discharge papers, but at night I would slip out of bed and crawl to a wall using my elbows and my chin.  My back would just be killing me and I’d be crying, but I get to the wall and I set myself against the wall and I’d back myself up against the wall and I’d stand there — like Kaw-Liga, the Indian.  I’d stand and move my toes, right and left…every single chance I got — I got.  And I wanted to walk — I wanted to go back to Vietnam because of what the news media was saying about us: that our presence was not needed there; they’re burning the flag….

And I saw a lot of other patients coming back, limbs missing.  I wanted to go back.  I was determined ’cause I remember what I was taught at jump school.  That old Master Sergeant would tell me, “Benavidez, quitters never win and winners never quit.  What are you?”  [I said], “I’m a winner.”  And I remember in my Special Forces — thank you.  And I remember in my Special Forces training, one of the training missions that I was on, I remembered that my leader would tell me, “Faith, determination, and a positive attitude.  A positive attitude will carry you further than ability.  You can do it, Benavidez.  You can do it.”  I never forgot those three words. Never.  So there I was at night: slip out of bed; the nurses would catch me sometimes; they would chew me out, give me a pill, sleeping pill, put me to sleep. They would tell the doctors in the morning. I was determined to walk.

Nine months later, here comes my medical discharge papers.  And I told the doctor, “Doctor, look what I can do.”  He said, “Sergeant, I’m sorry.   Even if you can stand up, you’ll never be able to walk.”  I jumped out of bed and I stood up right before him. My back was hurting, aching, and I was crying. And I moved just a little bit; the doctor says, “Benavidez, if you walked out of this room, I’ll tear these papers up.”  I walked out of that ward at Beach Pavilion.  I walked out with a limp.  I went back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  I started my therapy again, running 5 miles or 10 miles a day, doing 50 to 100 pushups; and I made three parachute jumps in one day.  I was ready to go back to Vietnam, physically and mentally ready to go back.

My orders were to go to Central America as an advisor but being a non-commissioned officer and knowing some of the good officers in the right places, my orders were diverted.  So…I went back to Vietnam in 1968.

The latter part of April, I was instructed, my buddy and I, to gather intelligent [intelligence] information behind enemy lines.  And after two days on the ground, my buddy was shot through the eye, the back, the legs.  Our mission was complete but I didn’t want to leave my buddy behind.  I called in for an extraction helicopter to come and get us out.  They came in with the McGuire rig.  The McGuire rig is nothing but a piece of rope, nylon rope, to hook.  In that case, it was two ropes.  We hooked on — the enemy was firing at us.  We pulled up — going up through the canopy of the jungle, our ropes started to twist and rub.  You know nylon, it burns when it rubs.  As we cleared the canopy, our ropes were completely twisted and rubbing.  And there was a non-commissioned officer that looked out of the helicopter — he was riding  [unclear].  And when he saw those two ropes burning, he immediately tied himself with a piece of rope around his waist and he pulled himself out of the helicopter and undid those two ropes, separated them.   That’s dedication. That’s love of fellow man and country.  I’ll never forget that man.  And the enemy was still firing at us but they never shot us.  We landed — We landed in a safe spot.  My buddy was taken to the hospital.  Shortly, thereafter, he expired.

I was in another station area waiting for the next assignment when I heard on the radio something like a popcorn machine. Then I heard a voice, “Get us out of here!  Get us out of here!  Come and get us out! Quick!  ASAP!”  I asked the radio operator, “Who are those?”  He said, “I do not know.  They hadn’t given us any call signs.”   And I saw some helicopter pilot running to the flight line, scrambling.  I ran right behind him.  We saw a helicopter coming in to land and had a door gunner slumped over the weapon.  When the helicopter landed, I unstrapped the door gunner.  [Spec. 4] Michael Craig, 19 years old.  We just celebrated his 19th birthday in March.  I cradled him in my arms and his last words were, “My God, my mother and father.”  I asked the pilot, “Who are the people on the ground?”  He said, “Hey, there’s that black NCO, the non-commissioned officer [that] saved your life the other day, remember?”  I said, “[Sergeant First Class] Leroy Wright.”  Leroy always got picked for some particular assignments, him and [Staff Sergeant Lloyd] Mousseau and [Spec. 4 Brian] O’Connor.  So it was an instant reaction.  I saw a bag of medical supplies and picked it up, went over to my helicopter, got on the helicopter. We got on with the forward air controller to guide us in.  He says, “You can’t go in there.  You can’t go in.  It is too hot.”  Little did I know that I was going to spend six hours in hell.

You heard what what the President read at the citation of how I earned the Medal of Honor.  But he didn’t tell you of what I went through when I engaged in a hand-to-hand combat.  I was hit in the mouth with the butt of a weapon.  My jaws were locked.  After my last return back to the helicopter when I was boarded on, I was holding my intestines in my hand.

We lifted up.  The helicopter had over its payload.  Blood was running on both sides of the helicopter.  When we landed, they locked me in a staging area and started unloading, started identifying the bodies.  They found out I loaded three dead enemy soldiers in that helicopter.  I didn’t want to leave anybody behind.  My mission — My mission was to recover the classified materials so if anybody had it, he was on the helicopter.

So, they left — they left the three enemy soldiers on the side and because I sort of looked oriental, they thought I was one of them so they let me lay right next to them; and they were putting us in body bags.  And I remember my feet being lifted, and I was inserted into the body bag, and I hear that zipper coming up and I was “Oh, my God, no, no.”  My eyes were shut because I had blood all over my face. My eyes and the blood had dried up in my eyelids.  And I couldn’t talk because my jaws were locked. And I could hear that zipper coming up, coming up.  And one of my buddies was doing the Mexican hat dance and he was yelling at the doctor, “That’s Roy, that’s Roy Benavidez!”  Doctor said, “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do for him.”  Oh my God.  The zipper is just coming up — I was trying to wiggle in my own blood. And finally — I found out later — Jerry Cottingham made that doctor at least to feel my heartbeat.  When I felt that hand on my chest, I made the luckiest shot I ever made in my life.  I spit in the doctor’s face.  So the doctor said, “I think he’ll make it.”

So, I — I was cleaned up, put on a helicopter alongside with my buddy — one of the guys that I had saved.  We got airborne. I just said to myself, “Hold on buddy.  Just hold on.  We’re going to get some medical attention.”  And his grip tightened up on me.  And then he let go.  I was “Oh God, why do you put me through this test?  Why?  You helped me get these men out, save[d] them, saved this material; and now you take them away from me.  Why?”  And I was crying.  I was moving so much that the co-pilot, he happened to look back and he thought that I was gasping for air so he gets out of his seat, get[s] his bayonet out, and he was going to do a trache on me, and I am about to kick him out of the helicopter.  That’s just too much for one day.

So I — we landed at a hospital at –at Long Binh and I was wheeled into the operating room, and as I was being lifted to my operating table, I saw this nurse on her hands and knees, crying, yelling, asking God.  “Why do you this to these men? Why?”  Just crying.  And I turned a little bit to my left, I saw in the other operating table a man that had both legs and both arms missing.  I passed out.

I woke up in the ward.  One of my buddies was laying next to me.  We were so bandaged up.  We couldn’t talk.  We used to wiggle our toes to make sure that we were still alive.  After a short while, my buddy was transferred from there and I thought that he had died.

I was transferred to Japan, Tachikawa.  In that airplane that I was flying in MedEvac, we lost two men.  And I remember this nurse kept yelling at me: “Benavidez, you’re not going to die on me.  I’m going to pinch you every time you close your eyes.  I am going to pinch you.  I am going to pinch you.”  Boy, she kept pinching me.  When I got to Tachikawa, when I got to Japan, and they wheeled me into the operating room, they just rolled me again. I remember the doctor — I heard him say, “What in the world happened to you?”  I had blue spots, red spots all over me.  And I said, “That lady kept pinching me up there. ”

So after — I went to back Fort Sam, Houston, Beach Pavilion and I stayed in that hospital almost a year.  I continued with my career. Then I was awarded with a medal.  I was dedicating myself to come and speak to schools, to civic groups, to help anyone that I could help.  My life was spared for a reason and I hope that is a good reason.

Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez was buried with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

A lot of people call me a hero.  I appreciate the title but the real heroes are the ones that gave their life for this country.  The real heroes are our wives and our mothers.  Above all, the heroes are the ones that are laying in those hospitals, disabled for life in those hospital beds.  But the real heroes are the future leaders of our country, the students that are staying in school and learning to say no drugs.  Those are our real heroes.

You know, there’s a saying among us veterans: “For those who have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know.”  You have never lived ’til you almost died.  And it is us veterans that pray for peace, most of all, especially the wounded because we have to suffer the wounds of war.

I’m asked hundreds of times:  Would you do it over again?  In my 25 years in the military, I feel like I’ve been overpaid for the service to my country.  There will never be enough paper to print the money nor enough gold in Fort Knox for me to have to keep from doing what I did.  I’m proud to be an American; and even prouder — and I’m even prouder that I’ve earned the privilege to wear the Green Beret.  I live by the motto of “Duty, Honor, Country.”

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.  Thank you.

God bless you and God bless America.

*****************

 

The video runs 25 minutes and is the live version of what you have read here so far.  Do yourself a service and take a look to appreciate the power and honest humility of this great hero.

Youtube comment: “If there was any sense of justice in the world, Kim Kardashian would have been cleaning this man’s toilets.”

Now one last thing…….  I got this thing about Memorial Day and for good reason.  I have written about it before with some weight:

Just last year –  Memorial Day 2016

From 2011 – Today’s Significance

And then this from 2011 which is really not about Memorial Day but it is about growing up in small town America, the Military and young lives gone too soon – The Way it Was – and now it isn’t

So yeah, I tend to tell you how the cow eat the cabbage on this subject and I would like for you to do something for me. If you got kids in the house this weekend; kids any age, ask them if they know what Memorial Day really means. Make ’em put the smartphones down and ask ’em flat out.  If they say it is a three day weekend to enjoy, stores have good sales or it is a day off for barbecue then set ’em down and attempt to convey the importance of this day of remembrance.   I daresay they will not learn it in Public Schools these days so it is on your shoulders lest the sacrifices of the past are lost in the future.  If not you, then who?

Further info: Books about Roy Benavides

End Note:  Travis’ Letter by Brian Burns from the Eagle and the Snake:  Songs of the Texians

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12 comments to An American Hero, A Texas Son

  • Mike

    Thanks for reminding us of a hero. Very good Memorial Day tribute to a great man. The men who used their time and money to help the people are our best ambassadors.

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  • Bryan

    One of your best. Thanks for posting this

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  • bull nutria

    You are correct Andy, the average American doesn’t understand what Memorial Day is all about. Thank you for Sharing the story of MS Beneviades! All I can say is this should be required reading in high school. I shared it with many of my friends.

    I live on a street that is a quarter mile long. I fly a flag on holidays, mine is the only flag flying on Memorial Day weekend! Americans just don’t get it– freedom is not free!

    Thank you for your patriotism!

    Bull

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  • Jerry Criswell

    This is, without question, the most profound blog I have ever read. Thank you so much.

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  • Terry Berg

    Andy thank you for sharing & also thank Cait for her service.

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  • RVNGal

    Thank you for writing this.

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  • Jim Bell

    This is the best blog post I’ve ever read. Hell it might be the best thing I’ve ever read period!

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  • Ken

    Andy,you are going to have to really work to surpass this one. Excellent read, excellent premise and content. A Texas boy. Others, like Kyle, Luttrell, Murphy and others have stretched their credo out so others may know what a hero is. Many other men and women have done like these (even other states have heroes). We rightly honor ALL of them.

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    • Andy

      Thank you all for the kind comments. Obviously I feel strongly about the importance of this day of remembrance.

      President Reagan had this to say at Arlington Cemetery on a Memorial Day 35 years ago……
      Yet, we must try to honor them—not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.

      Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we—in a less final, less heroic way—be willing to give of ourselves.

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  • Don

    Now THAT is a post! And you know that guys (and women!) like that are out there today protecting our freedom. I truely believe that it would be a much better world if we had mandatory military service in this country. Conscientious objectors could spend their service serving in hospitals, schools, whereever.

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    • Andy

      Thanks Don.
      BFF Cait agrees with you on the mandatory military service.

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  • Nancy from South Georgia

    This was a wonderful story, and thank you so very much for it. I’ve shared it with many friends that I know will take the time to read every word and watch the video. And I agree with Don and Cait that military service should be mandatory.

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