Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez was born in Cuero, Texas. He grew up and joined the National Guard, then the US Army. And earned the Medal of Honor by doing the impossible, as you will see.
After assignment to 82nd Airborne, Benavidez qualified for Special Forces, also known as Green Berets. He went to Vietnam in 1965, stepped on a mine, and woke up in a hospital, paralyzed from the waist down. He was to be discharged, but on his own he worked himself back to standing and walking, and nine months later was sent back to the States for full recovery and qualifications.
In 1968, he returned to Vietnam, and again did the impossible, which earned him the Medal of Honor. Waiting for an assignment, he heard a voice over an operations radio, “Get us out of here! Get us out of here!” Benavidez ran to a chopper that was coming in. When it landed, he unstrapped the door gunner who was slumped over his weapon, and replaced him. It was one of three helicopters that had already tried and failed to extract the team that was under fire.
When Benavidez arrived, he realized all the team members were either wounded or dead. He jumped out and ran to the team’s position, getting wounded in his leg, face and head. Still, he took charge of the situation, repositioning the wounded men, directing fire, and helping to load the dead and wounded.
Once all the men were loaded, he ran back to recover classified documents. He was then severely wounded in the abdomen and got grenade fragments in his back. At the same time, the helicopter pilot was killed and the chopper crashed. Somehow Benavidez got to the wreckage, helped the wounded out and gathered them into a defensive perimeter. He called in airstrikes and directed fire from helicopter gunships. Trained also as a medic, he administered first aid to the men, and was wounded again doing so.
Finally, another chopper landed. Benavidez helped load the wounded, getting clubbed in the jaw by enemy who had come up on him. Fighting his way through, he managed to make a final trip to gather up all classified material, and help the remaining dead and wounded on board. Only then did he board.
Later pulled off the helicopter, he was put aside as dead, and was being inserted into a body bag. Blood had dried his eyes shut, and his jaw was injured so he could not speak. One of his buddies made a doctor listen for a heartbeat. Benavidez said, “When I felt that hand on my chest, I made the luckiest shot I ever made in my life. I spit in the doctor’s face. So the doctor said, ‘I think he’ll make it.’”
In the words of Benavidez, “For those who have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know.” He went on to say, “I’m proud to be an American; and even prouder that I’ve earned the privilege to wear the Green Beret. I live by the motto of ‘Duty, Honor, Country.’”
We are so proud of our true American heroes from Texas.
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