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To the brave, patriotic men who fought for the feedom of this country. No matter what the selfish reasons of the government were, these men fought for their country. For a country free of wars, hate and greed. We must not stop that fight. And we must not be led astray by false promises and betrayals. Stay alert you guys. Don't let this country become another Nazi Germany. Watch for the signs, then do something. 

 

Vietnam Veteran Gets Award 33 Years Late
By ROBERT BURNS
AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON - From one former Army helicopter pilot to another, Lt. Gen. Richard Cody presented the military's second-highest award for valor on Friday to Stephen E. Lawrence in recognition of his exceptional acts of heroism during a harrowing rescue mission in Vietnam.

The award was approved 33 years ago but never presented to Lawrence because of bureaucratic slip-ups.

"This is more than I ever expected," Lawrence, 56, said in accepting the Distinguished Service Cross during a ceremony in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes. "It may be a little late, but this is fabulous."

Cody, a career helicopter aviator and now the vice chief of the Army, quoted chilling words from one of the men whom Lawrence rescued from a downed aircraft on Oct. 5, 1971, while braving enemy fire.

"This is the one experience that I have relived hundreds of times in my dreams," the unidentified survivor was quoted as saying. "There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to die that day. I truly believed that anyone attempting to rescue us would also be facing certain death."

Lawrence was 28 days from finishing his tour of duty in Vietnam with the 135th Aviation Company when, as the pilot of a UH-1M "Huey" helicopter gunship, he chose to attempt a rescue of another American helicopter that had gone down in flames in an enemy stronghold near the Cambodian border.

According to the official Army citation, Lawrence twice landed his gunship near the burning aircraft before he and his crew managed to get the downed crew aboard and fly away under heavy fire.

"Chief Warrant Officer Lawrence's utter disregard for his personal safety, his devotion to duty and outstanding flying expertise enabled the crews of both aircraft to return to safety," the citation says.

Within days he had departed Vietnam, returned to Fort Lewis, Wash., and been discharged from the Army. He now lives in Clearwater, Fla.

"Steve, what you did over three decades ago mattered very much to the people whose lives you saved and to generations of their loved ones," Cody said. It also matters to today's aviators, he said, and it was the kind of heroism that sparked Cody's own interest in an Army career.

"Television images of gunship pilots like you flying in Vietnam inspired a young West Point cadet to be a gunship pilot. It was pilots like you that motivated me to be a pilot," he said.

Before Lawrence left Vietnam his commanding officer told him that he intended to nominate him for the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest honor for military valor. That was the last Lawrence heard of the matter until last summer, when he had dinner with fellow Vietnam vet Roger Almquist, who was surprised to hear Lawrence had been awarded nothing beyond the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was presented to him two days after the rescue mission.

Almquist decided that should not be allowed to stand. He began researching the matter and soon discovered that the completed paperwork for the Distinguished Service Cross, dated May 1, 1972, was in Lawrence's files in Army records at the National Archives. For unexplained reasons the Army never notified Lawrence of the award's approval.

He remained in the Army National Guard for another seven years and served for 15 years in the Coast Guard, retiring from the Coast Guard Reserve in 1994.

Lawrence is one of 846 soldiers who received the Distinguished Service Cross for Vietnam service, according to Army records. As far as he can tell, he never was nominated for the Medal of Honor.

Looking back, Lawrence feels fortunate to have survived that last battle of his military career.

"We were some lucky guys that day," he said.

 

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My heart goes out to all of the young people who are serving in the military. I honor them, and I pray for them, and the day when mankind will realize the stupidity of war.  How many innocent  men and women have to die before we finally say, "NO" to the politicians and their friends who profit from war.

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Thule, Greenland Where I spent the summer in 1952.

A great site dedicated to MIAs and POWs. Created by a young girl who cares about the veterans.
Another great Site! Memories and stories of World War II on the BBC site.

       

 Honor the Veterans, They don't make the wars, governments make wars, the Veterans served their country and their government for the right reasons (freedom of the people), no matter what the real reasons of the government were. ( Money, power?).

         
   

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