By Heike HasenauerFebruary 27, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 27, 2007) - A day after President Bush presented the Congressional Medal of Honor to retired Lt. Col. Bruce P. Crandall, Secretary of the Army Dr. Francis J. Harvey and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker inducted Crandall into the prestigious "Hall of Heroes" at the Pentagon.
"Crandall is the latest in a very select group of exceptional Soldiers" to receive this honor, which is "reserved for the bravest of the brave," Harvey said.
"To have one's name entered into the apex of our nation's pyramid of valor," as Schoomaker referred to a MOH recipient's inclusion into the Hall of Heroes, the individual "must have distinguished himself by gallantry, intrepidity ... and must have risked his life," Harvey said.
"We honor a quality at the very foundation of the Army - courage," he added. "The degree of courage is so high that only 1,239 Medals of Honor have been awarded in the last 100 years," Harvey continued. "Only "0.1 percent of all Soldiers who have served the nation have earned the Medal of Honor. Today, only 112 of the recipients are living."
"Crandall unequivocally demonstrated what it means to be 'Army Strong,'" Harvey said, referring to the Army's new recruiting slogan.
Crandall, who was joined at the Pentagon ceremony by his wife, Arlene, and their three sons, five other Vietnam-War MOH recipients, and others, responded with the modesty and good humor for which he is known.
"A person would have to be educated far above what I am to say what I feel," Crandall said. "I have to first thank my wife, Arlene; she's been my Army Strong for 50 years. She always had the hard jobs. I was gone much of the time, and she raised our three sons. Then she raised me some of the time.
"If I had to do it all over again," Crandall said of his service in Vietnam, "I'd thank the Army for taking me. I do feel like a baseball player who said, 'I feel like the luckiest person on the face of the Earth.' People often ask me, 'How could you have gone into a landing zone under siege''" The question he would have asked himself years afterward would have been, 'How could I not have gone in'" he said.
In conclusion, Crandall said, "Thank God I've lived long enough to be here. Thank you Sir, Sir, Sir," he added, in salutation to the dignitaries present. "There isn't anyone who will wear this medal will more pride and honor. So, from this time on, I'll have to start behaving more reasonably."
Crandall earned the MOH and subsequent inclusion into the Hall of Heroes for his actions at the Battle of Landing Zone X-Ray in Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. At the time, he and his wingman, then-Capt. Ed Freeman, flew 14 missions to resupply and rescue Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, who were being pummeled by North Vietnamese Army troops.
For more information on the Medal of Honor and Crandall, see www.army.mil/medalofhonor/crandall.
(Heike Hasenauer is the senior editor of "Soldiers" magazine.)