Humbling experience

Veterans’ Voices is directed toward veterans and their families who have given so much to ensure our freedom in this country. This is an area where you may share your experiences, or read of other veterans’ experiences. We thank you for your service, and hope that you know how much you are loved and appreciated.

 

I mentioned prior that I volunteer at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Museum downtown Fresno. The museum is the home for the Legion of Valor. Every time I go in there and walk in the room with all of the displays, it is overwhelming. There is such a vibe in there displaying all of the uniforms, metals, bios from many real American Heroes. Every trip, I find something else that I have not seen before. Today, I had the pleasure to meet one of those American Heroes. His name is Lt. Colonel Richard W. He has received some of the highest metals available. I found he is just another humble person that I could not wait to listen to some of his stories. Talk about military awards. He spent three tours in Vietnam. One at the beginning of the war, one in the middle and one at the end.


Richard was awarded two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Metal, three Air Metals, the Combat Infantry Badge, Airborne Wings, and the Vietnamese Ranger Badge. He was awarded several Service Foreign Awards. He also received the Distinguished Service Cross. The highest metals that are earned are Metal of Honor, then the Distinguished Service Cross, and then the Silver Star. He received two of those. He also taught High School ROTC. He is currently involved with several Veteran Organizations.


The following was written on the actual award: The award of the Distinguished Service Cross was awarded for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Captain W. distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on May 27, 1969, while commanding this company on a search and destroy mission southwest of landing zone Mary Lou. When one of the rifle squads surprised seven enemy soldiers and opened fire, Captain W. immediately deployed the remainder of the unit to assist. Hostile reinforcements meanwhile had arrived in huge numbers and began to place tremendous firepower on the company’s perimeter. Despite the devastating artillery fire directed on the enemy positions, Captain W. unit sustained heavy casualties. As soon as Captain W. rallied his men to force the enemy to break off their assault temporarily, he directed every man who is able to withdraw from the area to establish a landing zone for evacuating the wounded. Although wounded himself, Captain W. alone stayed behind to protect the dead and while being critically wounded. For three harrowing hours, he directed artillery fire on hostile emplacements and with his individual weapon prevented the enemy from overrunning his position. Captain W. extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions in the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army by direction of the president.


Richard wrote a book about Vietnam and in the preface, he stated years has passed since the end of Vietnam War, but the memory of the war is still lingering in the minds of those who serve there or who have loved ones die there.


To each of us who have been affected by the war, the war meant different things. I’m sure that not all of us who gave our blood in Vietnam or even those who otherwise participated in the war experience a war in the same way.


Time heals most wounds, and now that several years have passed, perhaps we can look back at the Vietnam experience and put it in perspective. It is my opinion that war is the most despicable means by which one country tries to solve its problem with another country. This may seem like a strange statement by one who has devoted his life to preparing for and waging war. However, the corollary may be that those of us who engage in war are better able to appreciate that terror, grief, and destruction that results from war. While I feel that there are other means by which differences can be settled, I feel privileged to have been able to serve my country during three different and distinct phases of the Vietnam War. I was there during the beginning, the middle, and the end. I went because I’m a soldier and not because of any political ideology. When I went, I felt that I was trained to do the job that I felt needed to be done. In reflecting upon my experience, I feel that we did the right thing by getting involved in Vietnam. I also feel that it was my training and God’s help that brought me home. Would I do it again? Yes.


Tomorrow I am privileged to have dinner with more American Heroes that also are members of the Legion of Valor. I am sure I will be overwhelmed again. I can not wait. Any comments, email me at AboutVets@yahoo.com.


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— Royal D. Goodman, U.S. Army/Vietnam,


1st Cav/9th Infantry