First Army unit hosts Medal of Honor recipient
Retired Col. Bruce R. Crandall, a Medal of Honor recipient, gives a thumbs-up after receiving a blanket from Soldiers of First Army Division West's 166th Aviation Brigade. With Crandall are the 166th Commander, Col. Kevin A. Vizzarri (right), and Chief Warrant Officer 5 James O'Gorman.

FORT HOOD, Texas (March 28, 2014) -- Soldiers of First Army Division West's 166th Aviation Brigade hosted Medal of Honor recipient retired Col. Bruce R. Crandall at their spring formal.

Crandall received the nation's highest military award for his actions in the first major conflict of the Vietnam War, in the Ia Drang Valley, during November 1965. He was portrayed by Greg Kinnear in "We Were Soldiers."

He regaled the crowd of 250 Soldiers and families with his stories, from long-time friend and wingman, Ed "Too Tall" Freeman, to Col. Hal Moore, to his wife Arlene, and their experiences as part of the Engineer Corps in Libya, Venezuela, Vietnam, and many places in between.

In anticipation of Crandall's visit, Soldiers watched a screening of the movie.

"I'd seen the movie before and I was really excited to meet him," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Farmer, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter standardization instructor with the 166th Aviation Brigade.

"He was a humble man who had an incredible experience," said Capt. Jason Kim, the event coordinator and commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 166th Aviation Brigade. "He did a really good job portraying his experience and tying it into advice for the Army Soldiers today."

Crandall also spoke with Soldiers of Troop B, 1st Squadron, 230th Air Cavalry Regiment, an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter unit of the Tennessee National Guard, going through pre-mobilization training with the 166th Aviation Brigade.

"He was awesome," said Capt. Brendan Ballerd, Troop B commander. "He was like a grandfather figure with stories to share that anyone can listen to and enjoy, and [someone to] look up to."

Ballerd especially appreciated having a role model for his Soldiers to emulate before their upcoming deployment.

"He's an exemplary figure to all of us for what he did during his service," he said. "It was a real morale boost."

The common theme among those who met and heard Crandall speak was his humility and what he taught them.

"Take care of your Soldiers and they'll take care of you," Ballerd said.

Well into his 80s, the aviator travels over 200 days each year, sharing his love for the Army, helicopters, and his comrades-in-arms, both past and present.

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First Army, as U.S. Forces Command's designated coordinating authority for implementation of the Army Total Force Policy, partners with U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard leadership to advise, assist, and train reserve-component formations to achieve Department of the Army-directed readiness requirements, during thorough pre- and post-mobilization, multicomponent integrated collective training, enabling FORSCOM to provide Combatant Commanders trained and ready forces in support of worldwide requirements.

Page last updated Fri March 28th, 2014 at 00:00