Roy P. Benavidez
MSG Roy P. Benavidez was also a regular
attendee at C/3/12's Annual Soldier Of The Year function. Naturally, C/3/12 made him an
honorary member of the company. MSG Benavidez was a "Larger-Than-Life" SF
trooper and received our country's highest military award, the Medal Of Honor (MOH).
His MOH citation reads as folllows:
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.
The Valor Foundation has honored MSG
Benavidez by creating a statue of him: