I received many responses to my post titled "I Have Never Met A War Hero", but one of them was particularly eloquent and is a testament to the American military veterans. I post it for everyone to read, exactly as it was received.
"Dear Mr. Connelly,
You, Sir, are indeed an American Patriot and invaluable promoter, advocate and defender of our Constitution and our rights as citizens. Your military service and that of your father is much appreciated by us your fellow veterans, for whom you make great efforts in support of our interests, for which we thank you.
Regarding the subject of your article, I agree with your observation. On a personal involvement and participation basis, I was among 17 American Special Forces soldiers engaged in the battle at our Special Forces Camp Ashau in Vietnam on 9 -12 March 1966. I commanded the 17 SF soldiers with a Vietnamese mostly irregular
force with a strength of about 400 in defense of the camp against a reinforced North Vietnamese infantry regiment supported by its division's weapons and resources. It was a horrendous and costly battle for both sides, we having 188 survivors among our irregulars and us SF, we having 5 of us SF KIA and the other 12 WIA. The NVA/VC had many more in losses than we did. After two days of battle we were ordered to fight our way out, which we did, some of our soldiers and most severely wounded SF being extracted successfully by helicopters, but none of the mobile SF getting on helicopters, but rather leading the irregulars who could not get on a helicopter in the following two days of evasion.
When it was all over, of the SF soldiers, 1 received a Medal of Honor (delayed for 48 years in award presentation),6 received Distinguished Service Crosses, 4 received Silver Stars, and the others, most KIA or incapacitated WIA early in the battle received Bronze Stars and, of course, all 17 received Purple Hearts. I doubt that there is another battle in which so few ground combatants received so many high decorations for valor. The SF soldiers with whom I was privileged to serve and fight are diminishing as age takes its toll on us, currently only 7 of us left. CSM Bennie Adkins is our MOH recipient and as "duty requires" travels a lot (too much for an 80 year old) in making officially requested public appearances. Three of our DSC recipients remain, two of our Silver Star recipients, one Bronze Star still alive. I know from personal experiences and knowing my comrades in the battle that none of us tell much to others about our own experiences in the combat and not of our awards, other than my dear friend and battle mate Bennie Adkins, who because of his deserved celebrity is used by the Army for publicizing our Army image. (Bennie would likely forego the "duty" obligation, if he could.)
Didn't mean to tell a war story, but rather to reinforce what you titled your article! We all consider ourselves soldiers who did what was required and expected of them, and the circumstances under which we were embattled with such violence could well happen to any combatants, and how they would fight is likely just as my Special Forces comrades and I fought at Ashau. We are not "heros!" We are American warriors: Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy. We are sworn to support and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and we strive mightily to do so, and give what we have when the times come for us to honor our oaths and meet our commitments. We are not heroes but rather Constitution and Nation loving patriots!
De Oppresso Liber
John D. "Dave" Blair IV
Colonel, Special Forces
US Army (Retired)"