Medal Of Honor Citation
BENAVIDEZ, ROY P.
Rank and organization: Master Sergeant. Organization: Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group, Republic of Vietnam
Place and date: West of Loc Ninh on May 2, 1968
Entered service at: Houston, Texas June 1955
Born: August 5, 1935, DeWitt County, Cuero, Texas.
Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series
of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne),
1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted
by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale
enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time
on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction,
but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating
Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to
assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt.
Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft
to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms
fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite
these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing
of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft
to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded
team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick
up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on
the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the
abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter
crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents
and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned
survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter
distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy
opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed
the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again
in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter
was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip
with the wounded, he was clubbed with additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued
under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy
soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little
strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed,
and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did
he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades
who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite
numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty,
and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military
service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.
|Medal Of Honor Ceremony with President Reagan
Raul (Roy) Perez Benavidez
(August 5, 1935 – November 29, 1998) was a member of the Studies and Observations Group of the United States Army. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat near Lộc Ninh, South Vietnam on May 2, 1968.
Childhood and early life
Benavidez was born in Lindenau near Cuero, Texas in DeWitt County. His parents were of Mexican and Yaqui Indian ancestry. When he was two years old, his father died of tuberculosis and his mother remarried. Five years later, his mother died from tuberculosis too. Benavidez and his younger brother, Roger
and half sister Marķa Guadalupe moved to El Campo, where their grandfather, uncle and aunt raised them along with eight cousins.
Benavidez shined shoes at the local bus station, labored on farms in Texas and Colorado, and worked at a tire shop in El Campo. He attended school sporadically, and at the age 15 he dropped out to work full-time to help support the family.
In 1952, during the Korean War, Benavidez enlisted the Texas Army National Guard. In June 1955, he enlisted in the regular United States Army. He married Hilaria Coy in 1959, the year he completed his airborne training and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. In 1965 he was sent to South Vietnam as an advisor to an ARVN infantry regiment. He stepped on a land mine during a patrol and was evacuated to the United States, where doctors at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) thought he would never walk again. Despite serious injury to his spine, Benavidez walked out of the hospital in July 1966, his wife at his side.
Benavidez returned to Fort Bragg to begin training for the elite Studies and Observations Group (SOG). Despite continuing pain from by his wounds, he became a member of the 5th Special Forces Group and returned to South Vietnam in January 1968. On May 2, 1968, a 12-man Special Forces team was surrounded by a NVA battalion. Benavidez heard the radio appeal for help and boarded a helicopter to respond. Armed only with a knife, he jumped
from the helicopter carrying a medical bag and rushed to join the trapped team. Benavidez "distinguished himself by a series
of daring and extremely glorious actions... and because of his gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in
critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe
wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men." (see medal citation)
Nearly dead from a total of 37 separate bayonet, bullet and shrapnel wounds received on multiple occasions over the course of the six hour fight between the 13 men and an
enemy battalion, Benavidez was evacuated once again to Brooke Army Medical Center, where he eventually recovered. For his heroism, the Army
awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross.
In 1973, after more detailed accounts became available, Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel Ralph R. Drake insisted that
Benavidez receive the Medal of Honor. By then, however, the time limit on the medal had expired. An appeal to Congress resulted in an exemption for Benavidez, but the Army Decorations Board still denied him the Medal of Honor. The board required
an eyewitness account from someone present during the action, but Benavidez thought that no others were alive who had been at the "Six
Hours in Hell.
In 1980, however, Brian O'Connor, a radioman in the attacked Special Forces team, provided a ten-page report of the engagement. O'Connor had been severely wounded (Benavidez
had believed him dead), and was evacuated to the United States before his superiors could fully debrief him. O'Connor learned
that Benavidez was alive by chance. He had been living in the Fiji Islands and was on holiday in Australia when he read a newspaper account of Benavidez from an El Campo newspaper. It had been picked up by the international press
and reprinted in Australia. O'Connor soon contacted his old friend and submitted his report, confirming the accounts already
provided by others and providing the missing eyewitness.
On February 24, 1981, President Ronald Reagan presented Roy Benavidez the Medal of Honor. Reagan reportedly turned to the press and said: "If the story of his heroism
were a movie script, you would not believe it". He then read the official award citation.
This was Roy's second tour of duty. He had been so gravely wounded, by stepping
on a landmine on his first tour that he was drummed out of the Army after returning. Roy built his body back up, returned
to the service after proving himself fit, joined the elite Green Beret's and went back to Vietnam for a second tour for which
he received the Medal of Honor.
And, if you had told him to his face that he was a hero, he would probably
answer with, "I was doing my job." They did their duty, and then went back to the world, never bragging of their deeds. For,
these are the heroes - the ordinary men of extraordinary courage.
“Tango, Mike Mike" Send -"That Mean Mexican!" Roy Benevidez' call letters used by the Green Berets when in bad
need of assistance!
Thank you, my friend, Harley Sanchez, for telling me about M/Sgt Benavidez. Whatta story of valor! Thanks, Harley!