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Honoring an American Hero – Roy P. Benavidez

Posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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by Ian Gargan
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30 Comments
Master Sargent Roy P. Benavidez

On November 29, 1998, America lost Master Sargent Roy P. Benavidez, a decorated hero. Benavidez was raised by his aunt and uncle after losing his parents at the age of 7. The family worked as sharecroppers, and life was anything but elegant. At 15, Benavidez dropped out of school to work full-time on the family farm.

Without a high school diploma, his career prospects seemed bleak. And so he joined the Texas National Guard. After two short years, he joined the active-duty infantry and attended military police training. Benavidez was assigned to the 82nd Airborne and deployed to Vietnam.

While on patrol with the South Vietnamese army, Benavidez tripped a land mine and became paralyzed from the waist down. The doctors said he would never walk again and that his military career would end with a medical discharge. But the doctors didn’t know who they were talking to.

Benavidez had already decided he would return to his brothers in combat. Against all medical opinion and advice, he carefully pulled his once-able body out of bed each night when the medical ward was quiet. Stealthily, he began slowly working to redevelop the muscles in his legs and lower body. The training routine he prescribed himself was brutally painful and often left him in tears. But his fellow soldiers in the ward, many of whom had lost limbs, continued to support and encourage Benavidez to walk again.

After months of rigorous, self-inflicted physical training, the doctors arrived to finally discharge Benavidez, essentially relegating him to life in a wheelchair. But before they could speak, he rose from the bed and walked across the room, leaving the doctors stunned. Instead of sending Benavidez home, the doctors decided to send him to Fort Bragg for six additional months of physical therapy.

Benavidez thrived at Fort Bragg. His progress amazed his medical team and exceeded all expectations. He went from walking feebly to being able to run 10 miles carrying a rucksack! He was soon back in fighting shape and ready to resume his military career. He trained as a weapons expert and earned being assigned to the 5th Special Forces group in Vietnam.

One Sunday after mass, Benavidez received a panicked call for help over the radio from a soldier he knew from the 82nd Airborne who was currently serving with him in the 5th Special Forces. Their 12-man team was under attack and outnumbered. Despite best efforts, three attempts to extract the troops by helicopter failed. Benavidez promptly boarded a helicopter, armed only with a combat knife, to rescue what was left of the 12-man team.

Benavidez could never have imagined that he was about to embark on the most grisly and brutal six hours of his life. Upon arrival at the battle scene, his helicopter was unable to land close enough to the troops to rescue them. After landing 75 yards away, Benavidez jumped from the helicopter and began sprinting toward his fellow soldiers. He suddenly felt a sharp sting and staggered for a moment – he had been shot in the leg. He quickly regained his balance and composure, only to be immediately pummeled by the force of an exploding grenade.

With fiery shards of shrapnel sizzling and piercing the skin of his head and face, Benavidez gathered himself and continued to race toward his troops. When he reached them, he grabbed an AK-47 from a fallen Vietnamese fighter and signaled for the helicopters to attempt once again to extract the soldiers from the field. The soldiers who could not walk were loaded onto one helicopter while Benavidez kept the enemy at bay, firing continually.

The soldiers who could walk proceeded to the extraction point to board another helicopter, with Benavidez following closely behind. As he watched to be sure the troops were all safely aboard, he was shot in the stomach and took shrapnel in his back from another grenade. As the pilot of the first chopper frantically tried to take off to whisk the immobile troops to safety, bullets began ripping through the aircraft. The pilot was immediately hit, and the copter overturned, spilling its already wounded passengers to the ground in a bloody heap.

Severely wounded himself, Benavidez bolted to the crash site where the survivors began to form a defensive perimeter to protect themselves. Benavidez began coordinating air bombings by radio so that additional helicopters could land and evacuate the surviving troops. Despite his serious injuries, he was determined to get his wounded comrades onto the arriving choppers. He knew it would take several trips back and forth to get them all to safety, so he began. As he moved the injured through the field of battle, Benavidez was clubbed in the jaw and stabbed with a bayonet by a Vietnamese soldier. Holding in his intestines, he continued. After moving all survivors to safety, sustaining 37 wounds, and blinded by his own blood oozing into his eyes, Benavidez was finally pulled aboard a helicopter and left the field.

Six hours later, a seemingly lifeless Benavidez sensed he was being placed into a body bag. As the doctor began to zip the bag closed, Benavidez – unable to speak, open his eyes, or move – found the strength to spit in the face of the doctor, letting him know he was not ready to die! Roy Benavidez would go on to reach the rank of Master Sergeant before retiring in 1976.

Since there were no living eyewitnesses to the events of that day, Benavidez was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. But after a living witness accounted for his heroic actions, Benavidez’s distinction was elevated to a Medal Of Honor.

Roy P. Benavidez was declared deceased for the final time on November 29th, 1998, at the age of 63. The son of sharecroppers gave his life for his country and became one of the most decorated soldiers of the Vietnam War. The personification of a warrior, Benavidez put the mission first, never accepted defeat, and never left a man behind. He is a true American hero, and we salute him on the anniversary of his passing.

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Donna
Donna
2 months ago

I’m in awe of Master Sargent Benavidez’s courage. Contrast his bravery and sense of doing the right thing no matter the cost, to the useless carcass of a man taking up space in our White House.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
2 months ago

This story of the valor of Roy P. Benavidez in Vietnam , this is the stuff that encourages loyalty , honor – Well done with writing this article Mr. Gargan . Those qualities of loyalty and honor – they don’t grow on trees – some people have an abundance – and at the right time as United States Army soldier Roy Benavidez had. What is important about this article Ian is not only the praise for Roy Benavidez but the idea that this Nation needs more people who recognize the qualities of courage, duty , responsibility , the initiative that is required at times in order to defend freedom. Few people have had to perform so outstandingly as Roy Benavidez did , but the spirit of what he did – that describes the noble effort , the sense of honor to be respected and valued . God bless Roy P. Benavidez , rest in peace . With respect.

James Thomson
James Thomson
2 months ago

A true hero!

Joe Dixon
Joe Dixon
2 months ago

Awesome man who epitomizes honor, tradition, and bravery. A true American Hero!!

Russ
Russ
2 months ago

America has many, many heroes but none greater than Roy Benavidez.

Qwik
Qwik
2 months ago

Benevidez was a great man.

Arnold DeAnda
Arnold DeAnda
2 months ago

He was an inspiration to bravery and tenacity.

anna hubert
anna hubert
2 months ago

He was a Man Sadly in today’s woke atmosphere he does not qualify for a mural never mind the statue or square or street named after him

james s
james s
2 months ago

Thank you for reminding us of this distinguished person.

Pat R
Pat R
2 months ago

A well-deserved tribute to a fallen hero of the USA. That kind of courage and perseverance were the backbone of this nation for a long time. I imagine it still exists in some.
This is the kind of news MSM doesn’t bother with. I wonder if it is because it encourages others to be like MSgt Benavidez, and that would work against those who want to destroy what this nation has always stood for. How will they be able to control a citizenry if that citizenry is not fearful and compliant?

Boots
Boots
2 months ago

A true Hero’s hero. God bless you Master Sgt. Benavidez.

casscowgirl
casscowgirl
2 months ago

Needless to say Master Sargent Benavidez wouldn’t even know what to think of a safe space or microaggression. How far our country has fallen from him to what we have now. There is quite a moving tribute to him set to music on YouTube, I probably can’t post a link but it’s titled Roy Benevidez ,Tango-Mike-Mike and was done about 13 years ago.

Laurie
Laurie
2 months ago

Wow. What an amazing man. What protection of his fellow soldiers. Thank you for sharing this inspiring glimpse to honor this hero’s life.

Francisco Miyares
Francisco Miyares
2 months ago

Amazing Hero! Amen! ????✝️☀️????????????????

BuckyTJones
BuckyTJones
2 months ago

Why waste time on comic book super hero’s when we have the real deal! America has been blessed with so many of these kind of men and the trash in DC wastes them. I will be forever grateful to Sgt Benavidez and so many others like him.

Robert Deighton
Robert Deighton
2 months ago

A true American Warrior Hero! Never too many stories about our real heroes and American exceptionalism Thank you.

Donald
Donald
2 months ago

What an amazing human being and patriot. I am in awe of his super human will to survive himself to so valiantly defend and save his brothers in arms.

Noel Benavidez
Noel Benavidez
2 months ago

Thank you for sharing this with your readers. In addition to his military service, dad also traveled around the country to speak to our nations youth who he referred to as the future leaders of America. He would always say, “an education is the key to success. Bad habits and bad company will ruin you.” He has left behind a great legacy which includes six grandsons who are Eagle Scouts.

Michael
Michael
2 months ago

Roy is buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery along with other Medal of Honor recipients. Want to learn more about his heroic mission, read ‘Legend’ by Eric Blem.

citizen
citizen
2 months ago

Thank you for your service!

HARRY FOSTER
HARRY FOSTER
2 months ago

SNOWFLAKES AND WOKES DO NOT CARE! FOR THE REST OF US IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO WELCOME HOME THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED IN COMBAT!

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