Medal of Honor recipients set to visit
February 14, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Feb. 14, 2012) -- Five Medal of Honor recipients are scheduled to visit Fort Jackson to share their stories with the post community during a round table event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 16, at the Post Theater.
The men will also be honored during the Basic Combat Training graduation of the 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at 10 a.m., Feb. 16, at Hilton Field. The community is invited to attend.
The five former Soldiers scheduled to attend are Bruce Crandall, Walter Marm, Alfred Rascon and Robert Patterson, all of whom received the medal for their actions during the Vietnam War, and Salvatore Giunta, who was awarded the medal for his actions in Afghanistan.
Retired Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall was drafted into the Army in 1953. He was commissioned as an officer one year later and completed fixed-wing helicopter training. In 1965, Crandall deployed to Vietnam for the first time, commanding Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division at An Khe. On Nov. 14, 1965, Crandall took part in a 16-helicopter mission to lift troops in the Ia Drang Valley. Crandall's unarmed helicopter came under intense enemy fire during the mission. The ground commander stopped the mission because of the resistance, but Crandall determined that the besieged battalion of troops he had lifted needed more ammunition.
"Major Crandall then decided to adjust his base of operations to Artillery Firebase Falcon in order to shorten the flight distance to deliver ammunition and evacuate wounded Soldiers," reads his Medal of Honor citation. "While medical evacuation was not his mission, he immediately sought volunteers and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, led the two aircraft to Landing Zone X-Ray. Despite the fact that the landing zone was still under relentless enemy fire, Major Crandall landed and proceeded to supervise the loading of seriously wounded Soldiers aboard his aircraft."
Crandall inspired other pilots to follow suit and is credited with increasing the morale and fighting spirit at a critical time of the battle. He completed 22 flights that day, mostly under heavy fire, providing ammunition to the ground forces and evacuating wounded Soldiers.
For his actions, Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor Feb. 26, 2007, in a ceremony at the White House.
After a short assignment in Colorado, Crandall returned to Vietnam in 1967. Four months into his tour, Crandall's Huey helicopter crashed during a rescue attempt. Crandall was hospitalized for five months with a broken back and other injuries.
He continued to serve in various capacities and retired from the Army in 1977. Crandall and his wife, Arlene, have three sons and five grandchildren.
Salvatore Giunta enlisted in the Army in November 2003. After attending One Station Unit Training as an infantryman at Fort Benning, Ga., he was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy. Giunta, who left the Army in 2011 as a staff sergeant, spent his entire career assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
Giunta was twice deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
On Oct. 25, 2007, during Giunta's second deployment, he served as a patrol team leader in the Korengal Valley when the team was ambushed by insurgent forces.
"Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced toward his squad leader, helped him to cover, and administered medical aid," reads his Medal of Honor citation.
While rendering aid, Giunta's body armor and secondary weapon were hit by enemy fire. Giunta responded by returning fire and throwing grenades to conceal his position.
"Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow Soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground," the citation reads. "The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded Soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another Soldier was still separated from the element. Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American Soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded Soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security."
For his actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor Nov. 16, 2010. Giunta was the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq or Afghanistan and the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.
Walter Marm, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., received the Medal of Honor Dec. 19, 1966 for his actions in Vietnam a year earlier.
Marm was deployed as a platoon leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the vicinity of the Ia Drang Valley. On Nov. 14, 1965, Marm's company was on a mission to relieve another unit that was surrounded by enemy forces when Marm's troops encountered heavy fire and were forced to seek cover.
"Realizing that his platoon could not hold very long, and seeing four enemy Soldiers moving into his position, he moved quickly under heavy fire and annihilated all four," reads his Medal of Honor citation. "Then, seeing that his platoon was receiving intense fire from a concealed machine gun, he deliberately exposed himself to draw its fire. Thus locating its position, he attempted to destroy it with an antitank weapon."
Marm's actions, however, did not subdue enemy fire entirely.
"Quickly, disregarding the intense fire directed on him and his platoon, he charged 30 meters cross open ground and hurled grenades into the enemy position, killing some of the eight insurgents manning it," the citation reads. "Although severely wounded, when his grenades were expended, armed with only a rifle, he continued the momentum of his assault on the position and killed the remainder."
Marm is credited with breaking the enemy assault and leading his unit to accomplish its mission.
He retired as a colonel in 1995 and now lives in North Carolina.
Robert Patterson, a native of Durham, N.C., was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 6, 1968, near Lu Chu, Vietnam. Patterson served as a fire team leader with the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment.
His squad came under heavy fire by a North Vietnamese battalion, which took advantage of its position in two heavily fortified bunkers.
"Sgt. Patterson and the two other members of his assault team moved forward under a hail of enemy fire to destroy the bunkers with grenade and machine gun fire," reads his Medal of Honor citation. "Observing that his comrades were being fired on from a third enemy bunker covered by enemy gunners in one-man spider holes, Sgt. Patterson, with complete disregard for his safety and ignoring the warning of his comrades that he was moving into a bunker complex, assaulted and destroyed the position."
Patterson continued his attack despite coming under small arm and grenade fire from the other bunkers.
"Sgt. Patterson continued his assault upon the bunkers which were impeding the advance of his unit," the citation states. "Sgt. Patterson single-handedly destroyed by rifle and grenade fire five enemy bunkers, killed eight enemy Soldiers and captured seven weapons. His dauntless courage and heroism inspired his platoon to resume the attack and to penetrate the enemy defensive position."
Patterson is also honored in Fort Benning's Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame. He now lives in Fayetteville, N.C.
Alfred Rascon was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1945 and moved to California as a young child. He enlisted in the Army in 1963 at the age of 17 and became a medic. He was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Okinawa, Japan, which deployed to Vietnam in 1965.
On March 16, 1966, Rascon's unit - the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, came under heavy fire in Long Khanh, Vietnam. Many Soldiers were wounded.
"Specialist Rascon, ignoring directions to stay behind shelter until covering fire could be provided, made his way forward. He repeatedly tried to reach the severely wounded point machine-gunner laying on an open enemy trail, but was driven back each time by the withering fire," reads his Medal of Honor citation. "Disregarding his personal safety, he jumped to his feet, ignoring flying bullets and exploding grenades to reach his comrade. To protect him from further wounds, he intentionally placed his body between the Soldier and enemy machine guns, sustaining numerous shrapnel injuries and a serious wound to the hip."
Rascon was wounded again trying to retrieve a machine gun he feared would fall into enemy hands. He ignored his injuries and continued to provide aid on the battlefield.
"In searching for the wounded, he saw the point grenadier being wounded by small arms fire and grenades being thrown at him. Disregarding his own life and his numerous wounds, Specialist Rascon reached and covered him with his body absorbing the blasts from the exploding grenades, and saving the Soldier's life, but sustaining additional wounds to his body," the citation reads. "While making his way to the wounded point squad leader, grenades were hurled at the sergeant. Again, in complete disregard for his own life, he reached and covered the sergeant with his body, absorbing the full force of the grenade explosions."
Rascon was wounded once again, but continued to administer help until he, himself, was medically evacuated from the battle. For his actions, Rascon was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2000.
Rascon became an American citizen in 1967 and returned to Vietnam in the 1970s as a military adviser.