By Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson LeaderFebruary 23, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Feb. 23, 2012) -- Fort Jackson Soldiers received lessons in history, heroism and humility last week during the visit of five Medal of Honor recipients.
The former Soldiers participated in a number of activities and met with Soldiers in Basic Combat Training. The men were invited to take part in the 193rd Infantry Brigade's Medal of Honor week events, which included Family Day and graduation activities and culminated with a formal dining out.
Members of the Fort Jackson and Columbia, S.C., communities were able to meet the recipients during a round table discussion Feb. 16 at the Post Theater.
"For us as an installation to be given the opportunity to have five Medal of Honor recipients come and spend some time with us and see just how much (Fort Jackson) matters to our Army and to our future Army, it's a special day for all of Fort Jackson," said Col. Drew Meyerowich, 193rd Infantry Brigade commander.
Bruce Crandall, Walter Marm, Robert Patterson and Alfred Rascon, all of whom received the medal for their actions in Vietnam, and Salvatore Giunta, who received the award for his actions in Afghanistan, answered questions and posed for photos with attendees.
Marm, who retired as a colonel, started his Army career at Fort Jackson, where he spent three days with the reception unit before attending Basic Combat Training at Fort Gordon, Ga. He said he was impressed with the training he observed during his visit last week.
"I can't say enough about Fort Jackson and about what you do," Marm said.
The recipients recalled some of their memories of Basic Combat Training and how it helped shape them as Soldiers.
"In the military, you learn that this is your team from start to finish, and this is Team America," Giunta said. "Basic training at 18 years old was my first time that I've ever learned to become selfless."
All of the former Soldiers reiterated that they don't regard themselves as more heroic than their battle buddies.
"I'm not a hero. I'm just a Soldier who was put in that position," Patterson said. "Every Soldier, everybody in this room is capable of receiving the Medal of Honor. You're going to react correctly because you've already been trained to do it."
Giunta, who addressed Soldiers who completed basic training with the 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment during graduation that day, said his view on what a hero is hasn't changed since receiving the medal.
"My thinking hasn't changed at all, other than I don't know how I belong in this group," he said.
The recipients also agreed that wearing the Medal of Honor carries a huge responsibility.
"Wearing this (medal) and living up to it is a pretty big load," Crandall said. "I've never been prouder than when I received it. But I've also never been more nervous about trying to explain 'why me' because I still don't know 'why me.'"
Marm, who received the medal in 1966, said he agrees with those who say that wearing the medal is harder than earning it.
"We have to be caretakers of the medal for all the brave men and women whom we served with," Marm said. "We're no braver than any other Soldiers who were with us or who are out there in the Army today."