Twilight tattoo honors Vietnam War veterans
June 17, 2014
By Lillian Boyd
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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 16, 2014) -- The U.S. Army recognized Silver Star Medal recipient, Patrick A. Tiessonniere on behalf of Vietnam War veterans at a Twilight Tattoo event, June 11 at Fort Myer, Virginia.
The silver-star recipient was born in the Virgin Islands and moved to New York at age nine. He was drafted into the Army after graduating high school. He had hoped initially to be a civil affairs officer. However, he became a platoon leader instead and fought against the Viet Cong.
Before an audience made up of students from dozens of local schools, Tiessonniere was recognized for his service in Vietnam. He recalled for those in attendance one of the battles he participated in, known as the "Engagement in the Plain of Reeds." At the time, he had been a lieutenant and platoon leader.
"Helicopters accidentally inserted me in the middle of an open rice paddy," he said. "The grass was [about 5 feet tall] and we couldn't see the enemy anywhere."
When Tiessonniere's platoon of 24 men made its way through, they approached enemy soldiers attempting to hide beneath the grass.
Tiessonniere's recounted that his commander, then Col. John A. Hemphill, 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, circled the area and eventually made eye contact with a Viet Cong soldier who had a rocket-propelled grenade aimed at him.
"[Hemphill] told me his life flashed before him. He thought he was dead. But as he was looking at him, the enemy soldier keeled over. He had been shot," Tiessonniere said. "My platoon saved [Hemphill's] life that day."
Tiessonniere is working on an autobiographical book on his experiences as a Soldier. He anticipates the book to be published within the year.
During a reception prior to the tattoo, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commander, Military District of Washington, highlighted the significance of the evening's events.
"Tonight's Twilight Tattoo is really focused on those who have served during the Vietnam War-era and their unequal contributions to our nation's security," Buchanan said.
The Twilight Tattoo is an historical presentation conducted during the summer months by the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The event is free to the public every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia.
During the summer months, MDW conducts the once-a-week tattoo as a way to "connect our Army with the American people," Buchanan said.
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