Medal Of Honor Recipients Visit Airmen In Southwest Asia
(April 18, 2009)
Medal of Honor recipients retired Army Col. Robert Howard and retired Army
Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell are flanked by Airman 1st Class Alyssa Aguilar
and Airman 1st Class Matthew Aguirre as they render honors to the flag during a
retreat ceremony April 10 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Colonel Howard and
Sergeant Littrell visited with members of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing
during a Medal of Honor Society tour of the U.S. Air Forces Central area of
4/14/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Two
Medal of Honor recipients visited with Airmen from the 386th
Air Expeditionary Wing April 10 here.
Retired Army Col. Robert Howard and retired Army Command
Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell, visited as part of a Medal of Honor
Society tour of the area of responsibility.
The Vietnam veterans who earned the military's highest award
for valor participated in a retreat ceremony, spoke to
Airmen and signed autographs.
Colonel Howard said the people of the United States owe a
debt to American servicemembers and appreciate their
"Out of 300 million Americans, we got less than 1 percent
that's fighting a war against evil around the world," he
told the packed theater. "Now, I'm not going to talk
you, I'm not going talk about good and bad. I'm going
to talk about service. I love my great country
and I love what you provide for me and I'd like
to talk about that."
Medal of Honor Society members travel
throughout the United States to speak to groups such as
schools about the meaning of service, Colonel Howard said. |
"We go around the country, making people aware of your
service and saying 'thank you for serving our country,'" he
said. "Freedom is not free. You have to earn that, and you
earn it for us, so thank you."
Sergeant Major Littrell talked about the battle near Dak
Seang, Vietnam, for which his Medal of Honor was awarded. As
an adviser with the 23rd Battalion, 2nd Ranger Group of the
Republic of Vietnam Army, Sergeant Major Littrell and the
South Vietnamese rangers were surrounded and attacked. With
the other American troops in the unit were killed or wounded
early in the battle, Sergeant Major Littrell was soon the
only American Soldier in the unit during a four-day
"We went into a four-day, four-night nonstop battle, and I
was the only American left up on the hill," he said. "I wear
this medal because the people who were there, listening to
the radio communications, the Vietnamese I worked with, felt
that I had done something beyond the call of duty. I
Sergeant Major Littrell went on to explain that the Army and
the Air Force working jointly helped get him and the
surviving members of his team out of there.
"At the end of that four days, we got an order to withdraw,"
he said. "I said, 'Now, that's great, but I'm going to need
some support.' I had five rounds left in my snubnose .38.
We're going to need some ammunition, we're going to need
some air support, and we're going to need artillery. We got
word, 'Sorry, you're third priority. We've got troops in
heavy contact.' But thanks to some helicopter gunships that
heard that message, they come back on the air and said,
'Three-Three-Charlie, we've been supporting you for four
days and four nights, we'll get you off the hill. If we have
a diverted mission, we'll come in and walk off the hill. The
fast movers would come in and they were literally blowing
holes in front of us. We would move to the crater and the
helicopters were running up and down and they walked 43 of
us down the hill."
Out of 473 rangers who went up the hill with the American
advisers, 43 walked down again.
"Sergeant Major Littrell walked off that hill with 43 people
out of 473," Colonel Howard said. "So thanks to our good Air
Force and our combat service support, he is able to be here
with you today."
Sergeant Major Littrell said with the leadership and quality
of servicemember serving today, winning the war against
terrorism is only a matter of time.
"We're going to win this war," he said. "It's going to take
a while, but we're going to win it. And we're going to win
it with good leadership, good generals, good colonels, good
senior NCOs and the good servicemembers we have right now."
Since becoming a separate service in 1947, 17 Air Force
Airmen have received the Medal of Honor.
USAF SSgt. Thomas J. Doscher
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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