Skip to comments.Remarks on Presenting the Medal of Honor to Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez
Posted on 05/27/2002 2:34:15 PM PDT by X-USAF
Ladies and gentlemen, we are honored to have with us today Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez, U.S. Army, Retired. Let me read the plain, factual military language of the citation that was lost for too long a time.
``Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez, United States Army, Retired, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.'' Where there is a brave man, it is said, there is the thickest of the fight, there is the place of honor.
[At this point, the President read the citation, the text of which follows.]
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of the Congress the Medal of Honor to
Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez
United States Army, Retired
for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
On May 2, 1968, Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions while assigned to Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of May 2, 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters 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 returned to off-load wounded crewmembers 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 cannisters 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 the classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the team 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 build-up of enemy opposition with a beleagured team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, and began calling in tactical air strikes and directing 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.
Sergeant Benavidez, a nation grateful to you, and to all your comrades living and dead, awards you its highest symbol of gratitude for service above and beyond the call of duty, the Congressional Medal of Honor.
All of our heroes deserve honor and rememberance this Memorial Day, not just those who have left us for a better place.
I first heard the story about Ray from my first supervisor in the Air Force. Up until then, there was no one I called my hero. From that moment, to this day, Roy is my hero and always will be.
If only one in ten Americans were like Roy, the world would be a much better place.
God bless all of our deceased veterans, may they rest in peace with god.
May God rest both of their souls in His presence.
WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY
SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
DECEMBER 2 & 3, 1998
The Passing Of A Medal of Honor Warrior
Medal of Honor Recipient, Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez, 63, passed away on Sunday, 29 November 1998 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Roy had bravely battled diabetes and was overcome by respiratory failure.
Roy was born August 5, 1935 in Lindenau near Cuero, Texas.
Roy proudly served his country honorably as an Army Special Forces (Airborne) Soldier; he was the recipient of the Medal of Honor which is the U.S. military's highest decoration for valor, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Purple Heart Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Viet Nam Campaign Medal with 4 Battle Stars, Viet Nam Service Medal, Air Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, Vietnamese Parachutist Badge , Republic of Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and other numerous decorations.
He was a Life Member of the: Medal of Honor Society, Legion of Valor, Military Order of The Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign War, Special Operations Association, Member of the Alamo Silver Wings Airborne Association, Member of the Benavidez-Patterson All Airborne 82nd El Paso, Texas Chapter, and Special Forces Alamo Chapter XV Association, The 82nd Airborne Association, West Point Honorary Alumni Association, and countless other organizations.
Roy was recognized by the naming of the Roy P. Benavidez National Guard Armory in El Campo, Texas, the Benavidez-Patterson 82nd Airborne Chapter, in El Paso, Texas and the Roy P. Benavidez Elementary School in Houston, Texas.
As a recipient of the Medal of Honor, Roy promoted patriotism, staying-in school, he encouraged continuing education, and he supported drug free programs for students.
During the Viet Nam War a total of 238 Medals of Honor were awarded and of those medals, 150 Medal of Honor recipients died performing the deed that brought them recognition.
The Army Medal of Honor was signed into law on July 12, 1862. The standards are so high that over 55 percent of the medals awarded since World War I (1917-18) have been posthumously (awarded to the family).
Nearly 70 percent of the Medals of Honor recognized for the Korean War and the Viet Nam conflict were awarded to heroes who lost their lives as a result of their bravery.
The U.S. Military had no clear-cut military objectives in Viet Nam, instead it adopted a policy of attrition. Though the war was opposed by various factions across America, the men serving our military proved themselves as formidable combatants.
Roy served 2 tours in Viet Nam with the Army's elite 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
In 1968, Roy volunteered for a risky helicopter rescue of 8 recon team members encircled by hostile enemy fire. Roy suffered multiple gunshot wounds, engaged in hand-to-hand combat, and was bayoneted several times but he continued fighting, saving the lives of the recon team members and retrieved important captured classified documents.
Roy's gallantry and 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 reflected great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
The 5th Special Forces, Fort Campbell, KY will provide the pall bearers, firing squad, and the buglers.
Major General (active) Bowra, Fort Bragg, NC will be presenting the United States Flag to the next of kin. He will be representing the active Army and all the Special Forces.
Survivors include his wife, Hilaria Benavidez; a son, Noel Benavidez and his wife Andrea and their son Mathew; a daughter, Denice B. Prochazka and her husband, Stan and their two sons, Benjamin and Andrew; and another daughter, Yvette B. Garza and her husband, Rene'; one brother, Roger Benavidez (El Campo, TX); as well as the following cousins who were reared as Roy's brothers and sisters: Mike Benavidez, Eugene Benavidez, Sr., Frank Benavidez, Nick Benavidez, Juoquin Benavidez, Mary B. Martinez, Lupe B. Chavez, Helen B. Vallejo and Eva B. Campos; numerous cousins; nephews, and hundreds of friends and other relatives.
Roy will lie in State on Tuesday, 1 December from 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Rosary follows at St. Robert's Catholic Church in El Campo, Texas.
On 2 December at the Porter Loring Mortuary in San Antonio, Texas. Roy will lie in State from 8:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M.
Rosary will be held at Fort Sam Houston Main Chapel at 7 P.M.
A Mass will be held on Thursday, 3 December at San Fernando Cathedral at 10:00 A.M. and interment will follow at the Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas with full military honors.
Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez
U.S. Army Special Forces Retired
Medal of Honor Recipient
5 August 1935 - 29 November 1998
Tuesday (1 December)
10:00 A.M. until 6 P.M. - Visitation (St Roberts Catholic Church, El Campo, TX
followed by 6 P.M. Rosary - St. Roberts Catholic Church El Campo, Texas.
Wednesday (2 December)
8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. - Visitation (Porter Loring Mortuary)
Rosary at 7:00 P.M. at Fort Sam Houston Chapel, San Antonio, Texas
Thursday (3 December)
10:00 A.M. Mass at San Fernando Cathedral.
Interment will follow at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas
Medal of Honor Society
Benito V. Guerrero
Joe Anthony Travieso
1101 McCullough - 227-8221
Thank you for this kind and touching post about Roy. I knew him well...we made him an honorary member of the West Point Society of Greater Houston and even endowed a Prof's Chair in his name in the Department of History at USMA.
Roy was one hell of a man.
Blessings to you all...
BTW,did you see the thread where the announcement was made that Bush is finally going to award Rocky his MOH? I think the date for this is 8 July,and the ceremony will be in the East Room of the WH.
May we all learn from your example.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)