Roy Benavidez, a Medal of Honor recipient, died November 29, 1998, at age 63. He had been a member of Chapter 1919, Military Order of the Purple Heart for two years at the time of his death. An extract, only a part of the wording from the citation of his award tells this story.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of the Congress the Medal of Honor to: MASTER SERGEANT ROY P. BENAVIDEZ, UNITED STATES ARMY, (RETIRED), for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
On May 2, 1968, Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) ROY P. BENAVIDEZ distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions while assigned to Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. A 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy 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 crew members 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 he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioned the team members and directed their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the waiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the team leaders 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 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 automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, re-instilling in them a will to live and fight .Sergeant Benavidez began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemys 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 he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded he was clubbed from behind by an enemy soldier. In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, he sustained additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued 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 door gunner from firing upon them 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 aircraft. His 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.