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3rd BCT Public Affairs, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT)
Fort Campbell, KY – While facing insurmountable odds with their backs against a wall and their comrades’ lives at stake; brave men and women, without hesitation, place the well-being of others before their own. Today we remember these brave and courageous warriors.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill creating the Medal of Honor. The distinguished award was designed to recognize those whom displayed valorous actions while serving on the battlefield, “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, presents this unique award.
Today, March 25th, marks the 149th anniversary of the first presentation of the medal in 1863.
On that day back in 1863, six soldiers were given the award for their bravery during the Great Locomotive Chase in 1862.
Some of the most recognizable and distinguished recipients include:
Most recently, Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer was recognized for his heroism while serving in the mountains of Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Within the ranks of the valorous, the 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, is home to four individual awardees.
“I’m very proud to be a part of an organization with four incredible awardees,” said Col. R.J. Lillibridge, Commander, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). He added, “the actions of these four men optimize the personal courage and duty expected of all Rakkasans.”
Each awardees personal story and situation is unique and holds a level of personal courage rarely witnessed, Lillibridge expressed.
The awardees from the 3rd BCT have a unique story of courage and selfless service.
Pfc. Richard G. Wilson
Medical Company, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment
Pfc. Richard G. Wilson distinguished himself for having courage to willingly self-sacrifice for the sake of others during combat operations in the Korean War.
While accompanying a unit near Opari, Korea, Oct. 21, 1950, Medical Company was ambushed by a barrage of automatic weapons and mortar fire. He moved among the wounded and administered aid under hostile fire.
After the unit was ordered to pull back, Wilson noticed a wounded soldier was still moving. He ignored the pleas of his fellow soldiers and went back to the ambush site to find the wounded soldier. Two days later, a patrol found his body lying next to the wounded soldier. He had been shot several times in attempts to shield the body while administering first-aid.
Cpl. Rodolfo P. Hernandez
Company G, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team
Cpl. Rodolfo P. Hernandez came under attack while serving on Hill 420 near Wontong-ni, Korea, May 31, 1951. The attack inflicted massive casualties onto his platoon.
Suffering a lack of ammunition, the platoon started to withdraw their positions.
Wounded by a grenade, Hernandez continued firing into the onrushing opposition until his rifle became inoperable. He then left his position, armed only with his rifle and a bayonet, ran fearlessly toward the enemy. While attacking, he killed six enemies before falling unconscious from grenade, bullet and bayonet wounds.
Because of his selfless service and heroics, Cpl. Hernandez gave his unit time to mount a counter attack and gain the ground they had lost during the assault.
Cpl. Lester Hammond, Jr.
Communication Specialist, Company A, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team
Cpl. Lester Hammond, Jr. was conducting a reconnaissance patrol near Kumwha, Korea, Aug. 14, 1952. After his patrol had traveled over 3,500 yards into enemy-controlled territory, they were ambushed and partially surrounded by a large opposition force. After being wounded in the initial exchange of fire, Cpl. Hammond managed to withdraw up a ravine with his unit.
On the ravine he found a vantage point. Although his position was still vulnerable to enemy fire, Cpl. Hammond began to direct artillery fire that inflicted heavy casualties onto the Communist force. While coordinating fires, Hammond was wounded a second time. However, he refused to find safety in a different position and continued to direct fire onto the enemy until being mortally wounded.
Capt. Paul W. Bucha,
Commander, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division
Capt. Paul W. Bucha, and his company air assaulted into Phuoc Vinh, Binh Duong Province, Republic of Vietnam, with orders to search and destroy a suspected enemy stronghold, Mar. 16, 1968. During the operation, Capt. Bucha’s lead element became engaged by a battalion-sized force. With his soldiers pinned down from a concealed bunker, Capt. Bucha, under hostile fire, crawled to the bunker and single-handedly destroyed the bunker with grenades while receiving wounds from the shrapnel.
After he returned, he soon realized his unit couldn’t repel the relentless enemy attack. He ordered the withdrawal of his unit and covered their movements to positions of a company perimeter. When one element was cut off by the advancing enemy, Capt. Bucha ordered his men to face death while he ordered dangerously close artillery fire around them.
In addition to that, while in direct view of enemy snipers, he coordinated three medical evacuations using flashlights to help get the seriously wounded out as well as resupply his unit. When the next day came, he led the rescue efforts to recover the dead and wounded soldiers of his unit.
These four soldiers exemplify the very structure the Army was built upon: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
“If you ever have the honor to meet a Medal of Honor recipient, you will be astonished by the humility they posses in receiving the nation’s highest military honor,” Lillibridge said. He concluded, “they will all say they were just doing their duty.”
National Medal of Honor Day
Congress dedicated March 25th as National Medal of Honor Day which was introduced by Rep. Rod D. Chandler (R-WA), with 151 co-sponsors, it passed into law as Public Law 101-564
Currently, I am the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge of the 3rd Brigade Public Affairs staff, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Ky.
A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a degree in Biology, I decided to serve in the United States Army after my father passed away in Dec. 2001.
Being that he served in Vietnam as an infantryman in the US Marines, I decided to go the same route as my father. When I was told by the Marine Corps they could not guarantee that I would be an infantryman, due to my high test scores, I decided to go to the Army where they could guarantee me, in-writing, a future in the infantry.
However, while in basic training I was selected and given orders to report to where I had the honor and privilege of serving within the 3rd United Stated Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, in Fort Myer, Va.
While stationed there I had the distinct honor of participating in full-honor military funerals in Arlington National Cemetary.
While at Fort Myer, I successfully completed a training program and was accepted into the Continental Color Guard where I had the honor of being a part in major events such as: President Bush’s second inauguration, President Regan’s funeral (California sequence), President Clinton’s Presidential Library grand opening ceremony, World War II memorial dedication ceremony, President Ford’s funeral, 2004 World Series (games 3&4), 2005 Super Bowl, 2004 MLB All-Star Game, 9 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races, 3 Monday Night Football games, and my personal favorite; The Pope Benedict XVI visit with President Bush in 2007.
In 2005, I was selected to become the 81st member of the Presidential Escort Team, known as the “Hawk Team.” During my tenure in the Hawk Team, my duty description entailed escorting the President of the United States within the walls of the White House whenever a foreign figure of importance would arrive. I was personally engaged by and stood next to some of the world’s most powerful men and women during my two-year duty inside the White House. Some of the most notable international figures I had the pleasure of escorting were: Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Israeli Prime Minister BenjaminNetanyahu, Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (escorted at the White House and Graceland, Tn), Queen Elizabeth II, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, President George H. W. Bush, and primarily escorted President George W. Bush.
In 2007, I was selected by the Department of the Army to serve as a recruiter in Fort Wayne, In. There, I served four years as a recruiter, recruiter team leader and assistant station commander. While assigned to the United States Army Recruiting Command I earned the prestigious Glen E. Morrel Award for Recruiting Excellence.
In 2010, I decided to pursue my dreams of working in Major League Baseball. I changed my military occupation specialty to Public Affairs so I could work my way to have the best resume I could possibly have to help land a MLB public relations or community relations position some day.
While currently serving as the PAO NCOIC at Fort Campbell, Ky, I am studying for a second undergraduate degree in Public Relations and plan to graduate from Syracuse University in 2014.
I am blessed to have a wonderful and loving wife, Lindsay. Without her, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today. It takes a strong woman to be a military spouse and she does it effortlessly. I am lucky to have such an amazing women next to me.
When I have spare time in the Spring and Summer, I find myself watching baseball (GO CUBBIES!), camping, wine tasting, and enjoying the outdoors. During the fall and winter, it is a safe bet I can be found in a duck blind or in the brush hunting quail or pheasant with my Hungarian Vizsla, “Gus.”
I’m firm believer that hard work pays off. Dream big, work hard…. but enjoy life while you’re at it.
Topics101st Airborne Division, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Abraham Lincoln, Audie Murphy, Congressional Medal of Honor, Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Dakota Meyer, Douglas McArthur, Great Locomotive Chase in 1862, Jao Pelicano, Korean War, Lester Hammond Jr., Operation Enduring Freedom, Paul W. Bucha, R. J. Lillibridge, Rakkasans, Richard G. Wilson, Rod D. Chandler, Rodolfo P. Hernandez, Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam War, World War II, WWII
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