U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ruppert L. Sargent (1938-1967), is
likely one of the most decorated military service members
throughout the city of Hampton, Virginia. As a Hampton
native, he was the first African-American officer to be
awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics at
Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam on March 15, 1967.
February 13, 2017 - In 2001, the city Hampton, Va., dedicated a
seven-story building and a bronze statue in honor of U.S. Army 1st
Lt. Ruppert L. Sargent, located in downtown Hampton, VA. Sargent was
the first African-American officer to be awarded the Congressional
Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War. (U.S.
Air Force photo by Tetaun Moffett)
Sargent served as a rifle platoon leader of Bravo
Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Regiment, and 25th Infantry
Division during the Vietnam War.
Fifty years ago, he
uncovered a Viet Cong weapons cache and tunnel complex. At
the entrance of the complex Sargent observed a booby trap
and tried to blow it up with a hand grenade, but he failed
to destroy it.
As Sargent and his Soldiers walked
closer towards the tunnel entrance, an enemy fighter tossed
two grenades into the vicinity of the platoon. Without any
hesitation Sargent fired three shots then threw himself on
top of the grenades, fatally injuring himself, while two of
his men received minor injuries.
According to the
Sargent’s Medal of Honor citation, because of his courageous
and selfless act of exceptional heroism, he saved the lives
of the platoon sergeant and forward observer, and prevented
the injury or death of several other nearby comrades. His
actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the
military services and reflect great credit upon himself and
the U.S. Army.
Aside from being Hampton’s only Medal
of Honor winner, in 2001 the city Hampton dedicated a
seven-story building in his honor. The Ruppert L. Sargent
Memorial City Administrative Building is located at 1
Franklin Street in downtown Hampton, and in the lobby there
is a bronze statue of him on display.
site is located at Hampton National Cemetery.
By U.S. Air Force Tetaun Moffett
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