Saturday, September 18, 2021
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89 of 300 Million

89 is the number of living recipients of the Medal of Honor. With them crawling out of the woodwork like that it’s easy to see how Resident Obama got confused.

I’ve been privileged to have met some surviving Medal of Honor winners. The first was in 1988, he was my Brigade Command Sergeant Major. The man was already a legend among the privates of the Brigade, he wore a different combat patch every day. For the unfamiliar, a combat patch is worn on the right shoulder of the US Army Uniform, denoting “Combat Service” with that unit. While Vietnam Vets were common in the Army of 1988, someone with that amount of experience was not. As I remember he wore The Big Red One, The First Cavalry, The Screaming Eagles, a Ranger Company Scroll , and others. Everyone who saw the man on a regular basis knew he’d been there, and back. Then one morning, after a grueling week of training all day and preparing for an inspection all night, he stepped up in front of me. I was wearing my “Class A Uniform” with all ONE of my, thus far, earned ribbons and my “Tropic Lightning” patch proudly displayed (on my left shoulder), when the Brigade CSM did his in ranks inspection. All I remember is standing at a rigid position of attention when suddenly a figure stepped in front of me and executed a crisp left face. All I saw, from that point on, was a tiny blue ribbon, almost hidden under the epaulets on his uniform shoulder, a tiny blue ribbon with 5 white stars across it. My mouth dried up and my stomach and sphincter clenched, thereby cutting off all blood flow to my brain (this is a common occurrence among privates). He asked to see my belt buckle then chewed my ass because I hadn’t polished the back of the damned thing. I was too struck with stupidity to even mumble a response, not that one would have mattered. By the time he moved off down the rank I was a quivering wreck.

He wasn’t the last Medal of Honor winner I would meet throughout my career. Another discovered me “borrowing” diesel fuel from a group of Japanese Ground Defense Force Soldiers, and then stood guard with my Corporal while I finished using my Arkansas Credit Card and helped us refill and relight our Yukon stove to keep us from freezing to death in the mountains of Japan. Another introduced himself to me at an AUSA Convention in DC a few years later. He didn’t mention the medal hanging around his neck or his status as a retired LTG, but then, he didn’t really care about his status, he just wanted to shake my Soldiers’ hands and thank them for the job they were doing. Another grilled a foolish Second Lieutenant about who would salute who and when they would do it while I stood by and sniggered on the way to the mess hall. Another, Colonel Millett, ate lunch with me and pinned my Expert Infantryman’s Badge upon my chest.

I have been very fortunate; I spent the majority of my adult life in the company of the finest human beings ever to walk upon the face of the earth, whether they had one medal or a dozen. But even amongst these fine men, those who have earned a Medal of Honor stand out. I know what King Henry V and Sir William Shakespeare meant when he said

gentlemen in England now-a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

89 out of 300 million, is it that hard to recognize greatness when you are in its company?

nessa
Retired Paratrooper, Biker, Tattoo Artist

15 COMMENTS

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Wonderful nessa. Not my experience, but my dad, a draftee corporal in the Signal Corps stationed at Fort (back then Camp) Polk in Louisiana during the Korean War, likes to tell the story of when Audie Murphy walked in one day to send a telegram . After taking care of his duties, Dad got to shake his hand. Audie Murphy was not a big man, nor did he have a booming voice, but as my dad tells it you can be sure he was recognized on sight – and not just because he was at the time a field grade officer. He had that quiet “presence* for he had truly been “to hell and back” faithfully and unquestioningly, for his country. And I am sure HST (President at the time) would have not mistaken Audie Murphy’s name,status or visage, anytime, anywhere.

  2. nessa, I’ve met one, a few weeks back actually. I work with the public, and we have all sorts of people come into our place of business. During the past 6 months in particular, any time I see a guest come in wearing a hat that indicates that they have served in the military, I make it a point to talk to them and let them know how much it means to me.

    One gentleman and his wife came in. This gentleman was elderly in years, had an amputation below the knee and was in a wheelchair, but he was as alert and aware as I am…maybe even more so. And he had on his hat. I stooped down next his chair so we were on the same eye level, and I started asking him questions about his service. He smiled, and said in a quiet voice that yes, he had served, a long time ago. It was his wife who told me that he had been presented with a Medal of Honor. It was said with a degree of pride that was unmistakable.

    I told him how much I appreciated it and that I couldn’t thank him enough. He didn’t exactly shrug it off, but he said, “It (serving) was the right thing to do”. As if there really was no question in his mind of ever doing otherwise.

    They make me feel like crying, nessa, and I’m not much on crying about anything…except this.

    • …he said, “It (serving) was the right thing to do”. As if there really was no question in his mind of ever doing otherwise.

      For him, there never was a question, he saw the right thing to do and did it. He would probably tell you that any of his buddies would have done the same thing. Its a blessing, lineholder to meet such people as these.

      • Indeed it is, nessa, and I count it as such, too. It’s odd…a year ago, I might not have put myself forward in saying much of anything to these fine folks, even though a part of me longed to do so.

        Now, I take every opportunity I can get gladly, because it is such an honor to meet them and to let them know that there are still those of us in this nation who cherish the freedom that their service has provided.

  3. Great post, Nessa. Our Toker-in-Chief isn’t fit wash the underwear of our Medal of Honor recipients. It is terrible that he was ever put in a position of command over the military when his contempt for them, their honor, and their sacrifice is so deep and wide.

    What a disgusting state of affairs.

  4. Unfortunately I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting a MOH honoree. Other highly decorated vets seem both pleased and humbled when I thank them for their service. Our veterans have earned the very best we as individuals, and as a nation, can offer them. In complete contrast to the ruling class, who act entitled to our praise, even when it’s not forthcoming or deserved.

    • Colonel Millett was our Honorary Regimental Commander when I was in the 4th Battalion, 27th Infantry, Wolfhounds! He used to show up at the mess hall, go through the line and get a tray of chili mac, just like the rest of us. Then he’d pick some random table full of privates and sit down and talk to you. Unbelievable. During the Korean War he led a bayonet charge against a numerically superior force. That’s a man worth meeting, I’ve had lunch with Senators and Congressmen, even Biden and Kerry once, I’d rather have a plate of chili mac with Colonel Millett any day.

      • I’ve got to go one step farther Brian, this is the write-up for (then) LT Fritz’s award…

        For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. (then 1st Lt.) Fritz, Armor, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader with Troop A, near Quan Loi. Capt. Fritz was leading his 7-vehicle armored column along Highway 13 to meet and escort a truck convoy when the column suddenly came under intense crossfire from a reinforced enemy company deployed in ambush positions. In the initial attack, Capt. Fritz’ vehicle was hit and he was seriously wounded. Realizing that his platoon was completely surrounded, vastly outnumbered, and in danger of being overrun, Capt. Fritz leaped to the top of his burning vehicle and directed the positioning of his remaining vehicles and men. With complete disregard for his wounds and safety, he ran from vehicle to vehicle in complete view of the enemy gunners in order to reposition his men, to improve the defenses, to assist the wounded, to distribute ammunition, to direct fire, and to provide encouragement to his men. When a strong enemy force assaulted the position and attempted to overrun the platoon, Capt. Fritz manned a machine gun and through his exemplary action inspired his men to deliver intense and deadly fire which broke the assault and routed the attackers. Moments later a second enemy force advanced to within 2 meters of the position and threatened to overwhelm the defenders. Capt. Fritz, armed only with a pistol and bayonet, led a small group of his men in a fierce and daring charge which routed the attackers and inflicted heavy casualties. When a relief force arrived, Capt. Fritz saw that it was not deploying effectively against the enemy positions, and he moved through the heavy enemy fire to direct its deployment against the hostile positions. This deployment forced the enemy to abandon the ambush site and withdraw. Despite his wounds, Capt. Fritz returned to his position, assisted his men, and refused medical attention until all of his wounded comrades had been treated and evacuated. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Capt. Fritz, at the repeated risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect the greatest credit upon himself, his unit, and the Armed Forces.

        Please, if he attends the Veteran’s Breakfast, thank him for me, he and his peers actions are why the US Armed Forces are the best in the World, they are why Soldier’s today do what they do, to try to uphold the standard that great men like him set. Wew may be the best in the world now, but we wouldn’t be if not for men like him, and those like him.

        • He may attend this month’s breakfast, but unfortunately I will not. A family reunion will require me to be about100 miles from here that morning. If Mark attends, I hope he is able to pass on your thanks.

        • nessa & Brian: I plan on attending. I will print out your post above so I can properly convey your message. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, but without a hard copy I may get flustered and forget. Don’t want to mess this one up!

  5. To be among great men even for a moment, Nessa, yep, that’s worth getting out of bed in the morning. And those few are the best of the best.

    Cheap manhoods are in bunches these days, too.

  6. The humility of these guys never ceases to amaze me. Was at the gas station on Memorial Day and right behind me was a guy in his camo’s and boots. So I held the door open for him and as he walked by I thanked him for his service and sacrifice. To which he replied “My privilege”.

    After I got my coffee and donut and went up to pay, he ends up behind me with a couple of sodas and bags of chips so I just looked at the cashier and said “I’ve got his, too.”

    He looked at me with a kind of incredulous look and said “you didn’t have to do that.” To which I replied “well, you don’t have to do what you do either. And yours is a helluva lot bigger sacrifice than mine.”

    To which he nodded his head and said “well, I’m most grateful.”

    We would be a much better country with more men with their kind of character.

    • God Bless you e! They’re out there, everywhere, but our soft lifestyle doesn’t require them to step forward. My pessimistic, NCO’s nature of “look for what is going to go wrong first” can’t deny that America is still made up of amazing people and true patriots. They’ll be there for the battles we need them in, when its necessary.

  1. Wonderful nessa. Not my experience, but my dad, a draftee corporal in the Signal Corps stationed at Fort (back then Camp) Polk in Louisiana during the Korean War, likes to tell the story of when Audie Murphy walked in one day to send a telegram . After taking care of his duties, Dad got to shake his hand. Audie Murphy was not a big man, nor did he have a booming voice, but as my dad tells it you can be sure he was recognized on sight – and not just because he was at the time a field grade officer. He had that quiet “presence* for he had truly been “to hell and back” faithfully and unquestioningly, for his country. And I am sure HST (President at the time) would have not mistaken Audie Murphy’s name,status or visage, anytime, anywhere.

  2. nessa, I’ve met one, a few weeks back actually. I work with the public, and we have all sorts of people come into our place of business. During the past 6 months in particular, any time I see a guest come in wearing a hat that indicates that they have served in the military, I make it a point to talk to them and let them know how much it means to me.

    One gentleman and his wife came in. This gentleman was elderly in years, had an amputation below the knee and was in a wheelchair, but he was as alert and aware as I am…maybe even more so. And he had on his hat. I stooped down next his chair so we were on the same eye level, and I started asking him questions about his service. He smiled, and said in a quiet voice that yes, he had served, a long time ago. It was his wife who told me that he had been presented with a Medal of Honor. It was said with a degree of pride that was unmistakable.

    I told him how much I appreciated it and that I couldn’t thank him enough. He didn’t exactly shrug it off, but he said, “It (serving) was the right thing to do”. As if there really was no question in his mind of ever doing otherwise.

    They make me feel like crying, nessa, and I’m not much on crying about anything…except this.

    • …he said, “It (serving) was the right thing to do”. As if there really was no question in his mind of ever doing otherwise.

      For him, there never was a question, he saw the right thing to do and did it. He would probably tell you that any of his buddies would have done the same thing. Its a blessing, lineholder to meet such people as these.

      • Indeed it is, nessa, and I count it as such, too. It’s odd…a year ago, I might not have put myself forward in saying much of anything to these fine folks, even though a part of me longed to do so.

        Now, I take every opportunity I can get gladly, because it is such an honor to meet them and to let them know that there are still those of us in this nation who cherish the freedom that their service has provided.

  3. Great post, Nessa. Our Toker-in-Chief isn’t fit wash the underwear of our Medal of Honor recipients. It is terrible that he was ever put in a position of command over the military when his contempt for them, their honor, and their sacrifice is so deep and wide.

    What a disgusting state of affairs.

  4. Unfortunately I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting a MOH honoree. Other highly decorated vets seem both pleased and humbled when I thank them for their service. Our veterans have earned the very best we as individuals, and as a nation, can offer them. In complete contrast to the ruling class, who act entitled to our praise, even when it’s not forthcoming or deserved.

    • Colonel Millett was our Honorary Regimental Commander when I was in the 4th Battalion, 27th Infantry, Wolfhounds! He used to show up at the mess hall, go through the line and get a tray of chili mac, just like the rest of us. Then he’d pick some random table full of privates and sit down and talk to you. Unbelievable. During the Korean War he led a bayonet charge against a numerically superior force. That’s a man worth meeting, I’ve had lunch with Senators and Congressmen, even Biden and Kerry once, I’d rather have a plate of chili mac with Colonel Millett any day.

      • I’ve got to go one step farther Brian, this is the write-up for (then) LT Fritz’s award…

        For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. (then 1st Lt.) Fritz, Armor, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader with Troop A, near Quan Loi. Capt. Fritz was leading his 7-vehicle armored column along Highway 13 to meet and escort a truck convoy when the column suddenly came under intense crossfire from a reinforced enemy company deployed in ambush positions. In the initial attack, Capt. Fritz’ vehicle was hit and he was seriously wounded. Realizing that his platoon was completely surrounded, vastly outnumbered, and in danger of being overrun, Capt. Fritz leaped to the top of his burning vehicle and directed the positioning of his remaining vehicles and men. With complete disregard for his wounds and safety, he ran from vehicle to vehicle in complete view of the enemy gunners in order to reposition his men, to improve the defenses, to assist the wounded, to distribute ammunition, to direct fire, and to provide encouragement to his men. When a strong enemy force assaulted the position and attempted to overrun the platoon, Capt. Fritz manned a machine gun and through his exemplary action inspired his men to deliver intense and deadly fire which broke the assault and routed the attackers. Moments later a second enemy force advanced to within 2 meters of the position and threatened to overwhelm the defenders. Capt. Fritz, armed only with a pistol and bayonet, led a small group of his men in a fierce and daring charge which routed the attackers and inflicted heavy casualties. When a relief force arrived, Capt. Fritz saw that it was not deploying effectively against the enemy positions, and he moved through the heavy enemy fire to direct its deployment against the hostile positions. This deployment forced the enemy to abandon the ambush site and withdraw. Despite his wounds, Capt. Fritz returned to his position, assisted his men, and refused medical attention until all of his wounded comrades had been treated and evacuated. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Capt. Fritz, at the repeated risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect the greatest credit upon himself, his unit, and the Armed Forces.

        Please, if he attends the Veteran’s Breakfast, thank him for me, he and his peers actions are why the US Armed Forces are the best in the World, they are why Soldier’s today do what they do, to try to uphold the standard that great men like him set. Wew may be the best in the world now, but we wouldn’t be if not for men like him, and those like him.

        • He may attend this month’s breakfast, but unfortunately I will not. A family reunion will require me to be about100 miles from here that morning. If Mark attends, I hope he is able to pass on your thanks.

        • nessa & Brian: I plan on attending. I will print out your post above so I can properly convey your message. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, but without a hard copy I may get flustered and forget. Don’t want to mess this one up!

  5. To be among great men even for a moment, Nessa, yep, that’s worth getting out of bed in the morning. And those few are the best of the best.

    Cheap manhoods are in bunches these days, too.

  6. The humility of these guys never ceases to amaze me. Was at the gas station on Memorial Day and right behind me was a guy in his camo’s and boots. So I held the door open for him and as he walked by I thanked him for his service and sacrifice. To which he replied “My privilege”.

    After I got my coffee and donut and went up to pay, he ends up behind me with a couple of sodas and bags of chips so I just looked at the cashier and said “I’ve got his, too.”

    He looked at me with a kind of incredulous look and said “you didn’t have to do that.” To which I replied “well, you don’t have to do what you do either. And yours is a helluva lot bigger sacrifice than mine.”

    To which he nodded his head and said “well, I’m most grateful.”

    We would be a much better country with more men with their kind of character.

    • God Bless you e! They’re out there, everywhere, but our soft lifestyle doesn’t require them to step forward. My pessimistic, NCO’s nature of “look for what is going to go wrong first” can’t deny that America is still made up of amazing people and true patriots. They’ll be there for the battles we need them in, when its necessary.

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