President Cites Heroism Of 11th ACR Troopers In Vietnam
(October 22, 2009)
|WASHINGTON (ANS, Oct. 20, 2009) -- During a White House
ceremony today President Barack Obama praised Vietnam
veterans of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment for their
heroism in rescuing Soldiers from another unit trapped near
the Cambodian border.
|Veterans from Alpha Troop,
1st Squadron, 11th Armored Calvary Regiment,
listen to President Obama speak at a White House
ceremony Tuesday. Their unit received the
Presidential Unit Citation for heroism during
the Vietnam War while rescuing members of
Charlie Company, 1st Calvary Division, who were
trapped by enemy fighters.
The Presidential Unit Citation was presented to veterans from Troop A, 1st
Squadron, 11th ACR, for their heroic actions March 26, 1970. They came to the
aid of Soldiers from Charlie Company, 2-8 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, who
were facing more than 400 enemy fighters.
As these men will tell you themselves," Obama said, referring to more than 80
veterans of the 11th ACR in attendance, "this isn't the story of a battle that
changed the course of a war. It never had a name, like Tet or Hue or Khe Sanh.
It never made the papers back home. But like countless battles, known and
unknown, it is a proud chapter in the story of the American Soldier."
"These men might be a little bit older and a little bit grayer, but make no
mistake, these Soldiers define the meaning of bravery and heroism," Obama said.
"Now, some may wonder: After all these years, why honor this heroism now?" Obama
asked. "The answer is simple. Because we must. Because we have a sacred
obligation. As a nation, we have an obligation to this troop. Their actions that
day went largely unnoticed -- for decades..."
The Presidential Unit Citation is the highest award that a military unit can
That day Charlie Company had stumbled upon a massive underground bunker of North
Vietnamese troops, Obama explained, and was in danger of being overrun.
"It's the story of how this team of some 200 men set out to save their fellow
Americans. With no roads to speak of, they plowed their tanks and armored
vehicles through the thick jungle, smashing a path through bamboo and
underbrush, mile after mile, risking ambush and landmines every step of the way,
and finally emerging from the jungle to the rescue -- what one member of Charlie
Company called "a miracle."
More than 20 men from Alpha Troop were wounded and at least two were killed
during the ensuing battle.
Retired Capt. John Poindexter was the commander of the troop at the time of the
battle and was instrumental in recommending the unit for the citation.
"The real value of the Presidential Unit Citation is that it addresses the
heroism of all veterans equally," he said.
Poindexter's quest began several years ago when he wrote a book about the battle
and recognized that many men from the troop received individual awards but the
unit was never recognized.
"For me receiving this citation gives a sense of fulfillment. I knew we deserved
it, but I didn't know if we would receive it," he said.
Eighty-six Troop A veterans were in attendance at the ceremony. Alpha Troop
became one of about only 100 recipients of the Presidential Unit Citation.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Richard E. Richards, who already received a Bronze Star for
his involvement in the battle, traveled from San Angelo, Texas, to receive the
"It means so much to all Vietnam veterans to receive this award," Richards said.
During my visit to Washington, I saw the Vietnam Memorial for the first time and
saw friends and it gave me closure. This whole experience has been emotional."
Today the 11th ACR serves as the opposing force at the National Training Center
and the regimental commander, Col. Paul Laughlin, and Command Sgt. Maj. Martin
Wilcox were there from Fort Irwin, Calif., for the ceremonies.
The White House ceremony was followed by an award presentation at the Pentagon.
Article and photo by Nate D. Herring
Reprinted from Amy News Service / Army News Service
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