Roy Perez Benevidez

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress
took pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to:


Rank and Organization: Master Sergeant, Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group, Republic of Vietnam.
Place and Date
: West of Loc Ninh on 2 May 1968.
Entered Service at:
Houston, Texas June 1955.
Date and Place of Birth
: 5 August 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 from 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.

Other Information gathered from the web:
Portion from a speech:

"Last November, America lost one of her most loyal sons. Roy Perez Benavidez was the son
of a Texas sharecropper, a seventh grade dropout who suffered the humilation of being constantly
taunted as a “dumb Mexican.” He grew up to become a master sergeant in the Green Berets,
and served in Vietnam. He was a member of that rare class of warriors whose service was so
honorable, so brave that they are privileged to wear the Medal of Honor. He was decorated by
(U.S. President) Ronald Reagan, who said that if the story of his heroism were a movie script “you
would not believe it.” I would like to recall part of that story tonight.

On May 2, 1968, in an outpost near the Cambodian border, Sergeant Benavidez listened to his
short-wave radio as the voice of a terrified American, part of a 12-man patrol that had been
completely surrounded by a North Vietnamese battalion, pleaded to be rescued. Armed with
only a knife, Benavidez immediately jumped into a helicopter and took off with a three man crew
to rescue his trapped comrades.

When they arrived at the fighting, the enemy was too numerous for the helicopter to immediately
evacuate the surrounded soldiers. It had to land seventy-five yards away from their position.
After making the sign of the cross, Sergeant Benavidez jumped out of the helicopter as it hovered
ten feet above the ground, and began to run toward his comrades carrying his knife and a medic bag.
He was shot almost immediately, but he got up and kept moving. An exploding grenade knocked him
down again, shrapnel tearing into his face. He got up and kept moving. Reaching the Americans’
position, he found four men dead, and all the others badly wounded. He armed himself with an enemy
rifle, and began to treat the wounded, distribute ammunition and call in air strikes. He was shot again.
He then ordered the helicopter to come in closer as he dragged the dead and wounded aboard. After
he got all of the wounded aboard, he ran back to retrieve classified documents from the body of a
fallen soldier. He was shot in the stomach, and grenade fragments cut into his back. He got up and
kept moving, and he made it back to the helicopter.

But the pilot was shot and the helicopter crashed. Benavidez pulled the wounded from the wreckage
and radioed for air strikes and another helicopter. He kept fighting until air support arrived. He was
shot several more times before a second helicopter landed. As he was carrying a wounded man toward
it, a North Vietnamese soldier clubbed him with his rifle and stabbed him with a bayonet. Sergeant
Benavidez fought him to death, hand to hand. After rescuing three more of his comrades, he was
finally flown with them to safety.

Bleeding profusely, his intestines spilling from his stomach wounds, and completely immobile, a
doctor thought him to be dead. Roy was placed in a body bag, before the doctor discovered he was
still alive. (When Roy Benavidez spat on his face)

Miraculously, he survived, but spent a year in hospitals recovering from seven serious gunshot
wounds, twenty-eight shrapnel wounds, and bayonet wounds in both arms.

It took thirteen years for Roy Benavidez to receive his Medal of Honor.

But it didn’t seem to matter to him. He stayed in the Army. The war, and his forgotten heroism never
embittered him. He spent his retirement speaking to schools and youth groups, counseling troubled
kids, encouraging them to stay in school and off drugs.

“I’m proud to, be an American,” Roy Benavidez said as he lay dying last year in a San Antonio
hospital. May God bless his soul. And may Americans, all Americans, be proud— very proud—
that Roy Benavidez was one of us. I wouldn’t want to live in a country that didn’t recognize how
much we needed such a good man." 

From a speech by Senator McCain Addressing LULAC’s Gala and Honoring Hispanic War Hero
Roy Benavidez LULAC Annual Gala, February 23, 1999.  

Roy Benavidez died at age 63 on Sunday, 29 November 1998, at 15:33.  Just prior to his death, he 
met three of his command officers that day. 
Fort Sam's commander, Maj. Gen. James Peake, 
visited Benavidez on that day, along with Brig. Gen. Harold Timboe and Lt. Gen. Robert Foley.
Timboe commands BAMC and Foley, himself a Medal of Honor recipient, oversees the U.S. 5th 
Army at Fort Sam.   Among Benavidez's final words:  "Quitters never win and winners never quit!"
Benavidez said in his last interview that he wanted to recover so he could continue working as a
motivational speaker. Although this didn't happen, but he certainly stood the "watch" of life to the very end, he showed the calm courage of a true Warrior.  

Another VERY Amazing Utterly Awesome Story on Benavidez:

U.S. Army Special Forces: The Green Berets Special Forces Heroes: Master Sergeant Roy Perez Benavidez

Roy Benavidez could not speak. His jaws were locked, clubbed by a North Vietnamese rifle. Nor could he see. 
His eyes were caked in blood and unable to open. But he could tell what was happening, and it was the scariest 
moment of a day fraught with fear. He lay in a body bag, bathed in his own blood, and a doctor was pronouncing 
him dead.  'That's Roy," pleaded a buddy, "help him." The physician shook his head. "There's nothing I can do
for him," the doctor said as he bent over to zip up the bag.   Benavidez spat in his face!!!!

The 32-year-old son of a Texas sharecropper had just performed for six hours one of the most remarkable feats
of the Vietnam War. Benavidez was a seventh-grade dropout and an orphan who grew up taunted by the term 
"dumb Mexican." But, as Ronald Reagan noted, if the story of what he accomplished was made into a movie, no one
 would believe it really happened.

Roy Benavidez's ordeal began at Loc Ninh, a Green Beret outpost near the Cambodian border. It was 1:30 p.m., 
May 2, 1968. A chaplain was holding a prayer service around a jeep for the sergeant and several other soldiers. 
Suddenly, shouts rang out from a nearby shortwave radio. "Get us out of here!" someone screamed. "For God's
sake, get us out!"  A 12-man team monitoring enemy troop movements in the jungle had found itself surrounded
by a North Vietnamese army battalion.   With out orders, Benavidez grabbed his rifle and dashed for a helicopter 
preparing for a rescue attempt. "I'm coming with you," he told the three crew members. Airborne, they spotted
the soldiers in a tight circle. A few hundred enemy troops surrounded them in the jungle, some within 25 yards 
of the Americans' position. The chopper dropped low, ran into withering fire and quickly retreated. Spotting a 
small clearing 75 yards away,  Benavidez told the pilot, "Over there, over there."  The helicopter reached the
clearing and hovered 10 feet off the ground. Benavidez made the sign of the cross, jumped out and ran toward 
the trapped men. 

A bullet hit his right leg. He fell, then got up and kept running. An exploding hand grenade knocked him down
and ripped his face with shrapnel. He shouted prayers, got up again and staggered to the men. Four of these 
soldiers were dead; the other eight wounded and pinned down in two groups.  Benavidez directed the helicopter
to a landing near one group. He dragged the dead and wounded aboard. The chopper lifted a few feet off the ground
and moved toward the second group, with Benavidez running beneath it, firing his rifle. He spotted the body of the
team leader. Ordering the other soldiers to crawl toward the chopper, he retrieved a pouch dangling from the dead
man's neck; in the pouch were classified papers with radio codes and call signs. As he shoved the papers into his 
shirt, a bullet struck his stomach and a grenade shattered his back. And the helicopter, barely off the ground, suddenly
crashed, its pilot shot dead.  Benavidez pulled the wounded from the wreckage, forming a small perimeter. He distributed
ammunition taken from the dead and radioed for air support. Jets and helicopter gunships strafed threatening enemy 
soldiers while Benavidez tended the wounded. "Are you hurt bad,  Sarge?" one soldier asked. "Hell, no," said Benavidez,
about to collapse from blood loss.  I been hit so many times I don't give a damn no more."

Enemy fire raked the perimeter. Several of the wounded were hit again, including Benavidez, who took a bullet in the thigh.
Blood streamed down his face, blinding him.  Still he called in air strikes, adjusting their targets by sound. Several times,
pilots thought he was dead, but then his voice would come back on the radio, calling for closer strikes.  Finally, a helicopter
landed. "Pray and move out," Benavidez told the men as he helped each one aboard. He staggered through tall grass to fetch
another soldier. Suddenly an NVA soldier stood up, swung his rifle and clubbed the sergeant in the face. Benavidez fell, 
rolled over and got up just as the soldier lunged forward with his bayonet.  Benavidez grabbed it, slashing his right hand, 
and pulled his attacker toward him. With his left hand, he drew his knife and stabbed the NVA. As Benavidez dragged an
American to the chopper, he saw two enemy soldiers come out of the jungle. He grabbed a rifle and shot both. Benavidez 
made one more trip to the clearing and came back with a Vietnamese interpreter. Only then did the sergeant let others 
pull him aboard the helicopter.

Blood dripped from the door as the chopper lumbered into the air. Benavidez was holding in his intestines with his hand. 
At Loc Ninh, he was so immobile they placed him with the dead. Even after he spat in the doctor's face and was taken from
the body bag, Benavidez was considered a goner. His commander recommended he get the Distinguished Service Cross
for his valor in saving eight lives. The recommendation was rushed through the approval channels. A Medal of Honor would
have taken much longer, thought the commander, and Benavidez would die before he got it. But Benavidez lived. Over the 
next year, surgeons removed half of his left lung and most of the shrapnel from his body. He also won another battle. He was
allowed to stay in the Army.

Years later, his former commander learned that Benavidez had survived the war. The officer also learned more details of the
sergeant's mission and concluded that Benavidez merited a higher honor. Years of red tape followed. On Feb. 24, 1981,
President Reagan told White House reporters "you are going to hear something you would not believe if it were a script." Reagan then read Roy Benavidez's citation for the Medal of Honor.

Special sites to view on Roy Benavidez:
Benavidez Eagles
TMurdoch's Tribute
Texas Mexico News
Quarters 8061 Tribute
Special Forces Green Berets Heroes
Hispanic MOH Recipient
Special OPS Memorial site on Roy P Benavidez

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