Missing Soldier's Family Receives His Distinguished Service Cross
(May 3, 2009)
Kermit Stewart, cousin of Army Maj. Jack Stewart, speaks at an April 22, 2009, award ceremony for the Special Forces soldier missing in action after 42 years. Stewart was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for exceptional gallantry while leading a mobile strike force company of U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers near the Cambodian border March 24, 1967. Stewart was last seen providing cover fire allowing his unit to evacuate in the face of an overwhelming North Vietnamese force.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., April 27, 2009 – The
history of the U.S. Army Special Forces Regiment is short in
relation to that of the rest of the Army, but it's long
enough for fierce battles to become old war stories and for
training missions to be lost to the vagueness of time and
But for the men who have worn the Green Beret, the memories
of their Special Forces brothers, especially those missing
in action and killed in combat, will never fade.
And so, though it took 42 years to happen, Special Forces
senior leaders were asked to stand during the second annual
Special Forces Symposium here April 22 as the Army
officially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to the
family of Army Maj. Jack T. Stewart, 5th Special Forces
Group, who went missing during a ferocious engagement in
On March 24, 1967, two American Green
Berets joined with South Vietnamese soldiers to conduct a
helicopter assault near the Cambodian border. The combined
unit, a mobile strike force company, included then-Capt.
Jack Stewart and Staff Sgt. Roger Hallberg. After landing
near Bu Dop in Phuoc Long province, their patrol was greeted
by enemy automatic weapons fire, requiring Hallberg to
return to the rear area to report on the contact with the
North Vietnamese army force.|
During the firefight, Stewart rallied his men to secure a
helicopter landing zone against an advancing enemy force
later estimated to be two heavily armed battalions, greatly
outnumbering Stewart's men. Stewart was last seen by
American forces as he and Hallberg provided cover to
retreating members of their company.
Diane Hasner, Stewart's former wife; son Troy Stewart and
daughter Karen Kelly; Barbara Stewart Pratt, his sister; and
Kermit Stewart, his cousin, represented the Stewart family
at the ceremony and accepted the Distinguished Service Cross
on behalf of the missing Green Beret.
Speaking on behalf of the family during the ceremony, Kermit
Stewart recounted the Stewart family's uniformed service to
the nation during the Revolutionary War, through the Civil
War, both world wars, Korea and Vietnam.
In a brief humorous moment, Kermit paralleled the 55 years
required for Ezekiel Stewart to receive a pension for his
service with the New Jersey State Volunteers during the
American Revolution to the 42 years between the
disappearance of Maj. Jack Stewart and the awarding of the
Distinguished Service Cross.
“I don't know why it takes the Stewarts so long to be
recognized for their service,” Kermit said, “but we finally
Wearing a red, white and blue scarf embroidered with Major
Stewart's name, unit and date of his disappearance, Hasner
spoke of the importance of the award and ceremony to give
closure the missing Green Beret.
“This has been a long time coming,” Hasner said. “It's time
for closure for family, friends and the men involved in the
situation that day.”
One of the men involved in the action that day was John M.
Throckmorton, the lone survivor of the firefight. In the
days following the fateful mission, then-2nd Lieutenant
Throckmorton submitted Stewart and Hallberg for valor
awards. After meeting the Hallberg family four years ago and
learning that neither man had been awarded for their heroism
in 1967, Throckmorton resubmitted paperwork that led to
Hallberg being awarded the Silver Star and the eventual
awarding of the Distinguished Service Cross to Stewart.
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second-highest
military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the
Army, and it is awarded for extreme gallantry and risk of
life in actual combat with an armed enemy force.
Deputy Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, NC
Special to American Forces Press Service
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