Fort Bragg rededicates health and dental clinic to war hero
October 28, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Fort Bragg's Lawrence Joel Health and Dental Clinic opened its doors Friday for a rededication ceremony honoring Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence Joel of 1st Battalion 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Joel, a medic, was awarded the Silver Star and Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in South Vietnam aiding his fellow Soldiers during an ambush by a Viet Kong battalion. During the engagement Joel ignored orders to stay down and pushed forward to carry out his duty.
Outnumbered and twice wounded, Joel bandaged and self-administered morphine to deaden his pain to enable him to continue to carry out his mission of assisting wounded Soldiers. In a display of resourcefulness, after exhausting his supplies, Joel used a plastic bag to save one man's life by placing the bag over the Soldier's severe chest wound to coagulate the blood.
After attending to more than 13 wounded Soldiers and enduring a firefight that lasted more than 24 hours, Joel was flown to Tokyo to recover.
In a White House ceremony on March 9, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson, presented Joel with the Medal of Honor. In his presentation speech, President Johnson spoke of Joel's "very special kind of courage -- the unarmed heroism of compassion and service to others."
Joel retired from military service in 1973 and on Feb. 4, 1984, Joel died of complications from diabetes. In continued recognition of his service to others, the first of many military memorials dedicated to Joel.
The Joel Family continues to be a part of the legacy left by Joel and attended many events honoring his memory. Family members helped unveil the new Lawrence Joel plaque and monument.
Deborah, Joel's daughter, opened up about her appreciation for the Army's continued efforts to reach out to her Family.
"This event today melted my heart," said Deborah. "We are deeply touched by the love and recognition the Army has shown him, not just today, but over time.
"My father received the Medal of Honor over 45 years ago and here we are today like it happened yesterday," she said.
The unveiling of the Lawrence Joel memorabilia is special because it leaves a lasting memory here of Lawrence, said Dorothy, Joel's widow.
"Often times I think about when he was on the battlefield and I try to put myself in that position to see if I could do what he did and I know that I could not," said Dorothy.
"He was a very compassionate person and I know he did what he did because he was so caring."