Medal of Honor Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony, July 6, 2022, Fort Myer, Virginia.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Medal of Honor induction ceremony in honor of Staff Sergeant Edward and Kaneshiro posthumously. Specialist five Dwight W. Birdwell Specialist five Dennis M. Fuji Major, Retired john J. Duffy Colonel, Retired ralph Puckett, Jr. And Sergeant Major Thomas P pain Staff Sergeant Kenny Shiro posthumously Specialist five Birdwell Specialist five fuji Major, Retired Duffy Colonel, Retired pocket junior and Sergeant Major Pain were presented our nation’s highest and most prestigious award for valor by the President of the United States. The Medal of Honor. This morning they will formally be inducted into the pentagon’s most sacred place, the Hall of Heroes. Our official party for today’s ceremony includes the Secretary of Defense, the honorable Lloyd J. Austin, the Secretary of the army, the honorable Christine E. Wilmoth, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A Milley and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General joseph M. Martin. Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the arrival of the official party and remain standing for the singing of our national anthem by sergeant, first class Brendan Karen and the invocation delivered by chaplain. Major General Thomas soldem. Oh, say. Can you see by the dawn’s early light. What so proudly we held at the twilight’s last gleaming whose broad stripes and bright stars through the para last fight or the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming and the rockets’ red glare. The bombs bursting in air give proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say, does that star spangled banner yet wave or the land of the Free and the home of the brave ladies and gentlemen, please join me as we mark this very special ceremony in a word of prayer. O Lord! Our strong tower, defender and ever present help in time of struggle. You are the God above all the earth who trains our hands for war and whose presence goes with us. In the day of battle, We gather this day to honor six warriors who exemplified humble acts of courage. Soldiers who are in the crucible of conflict, committed acts of extraordinary bravery and courage. No matter what the personal cost. With a profound sense of pride, we pay tribute to the valor of such warriors who gave so much of themselves in a moment in time and one who gave the full measure in this Medal of Honor Hall of Heroes induction ceremony. They by far represent the best of who we are as a nation. Today we add Staff Sergeant Edward, Kenneth Cheryl Specialist, Dwight Birdwell Specialist, Dennis Fujii Major, Retired john Duffy, Colonel, retired Ralph Puckett junior and Sergeant Major, Thomas. Paine to our nation’s conclave of true American heroes for their boldness, sacrifice and bravery. They understood the hazards of their chosen profession yet upheld it with honor, integrity and selfless service. Each of these men, when faith was danger and overwhelming odds in the throes of combat drew from your almighty strength of heart, soul and spirit and made courageous decisions. Built on the foundation of their love and devotion to their fellow soldiers. Their leaders, the mission, the army and their nation. We thank the families who have faithfully stood alongside their soldier. Those who carry the memory of their loved one friends and teammates who are here today and others in spirit. To ensure these great American soldiers and heroes bless our nation. The Department of Defense, the United States Army with women and men of character, courage and commitment like these may the beacon of liberty continue to burn bright for our nation and freedom loving people around the world. I pray these things in your holy majestic and mighty name. Amen please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. Well, good morning everybody to the Kaneshiro family Judge Birdwell and family Mr. Fujii and family Major Duffy and Family. Lieutenant Colonel Retired Mrs. Locke and started major pain and family. Thank you all for being here today. Thank you also to the Medal of honor recipient, Mr. James Mclaughlin and gold Star. Family member Miss Jane Horton who have joined us today, Secretary Austin, Secretary War Meth it’s an honor to share the podium with you today. Senator Ernst, General Milley, General Shinseki, General McCaffery and all other distinguished attendees. Welcome to today’s induction ceremony. We’re here today to recognize six Incredible American soldiers for acts of heroism. But first I want to take a moment to set the scene. It’s almost impossible to describe the brutality of battle. It is chaotic, confusing, exhausting and unrestrained in these particular battles. The enemy who would close the enemy was close and overwhelming, death was imminent. Yet These six men took action. They invigorated the fight against overwhelming violence and provided clarity to their comrades in moments of utter chaos. You will hear more details about the actions of from the other speakers, but what I’d like to do is highlight a couple of witness perspectives that stood out to me as I reviewed these packets In the Kim Song Valley, soldiers from Troop C, first of the 9th cavalry were ambushed by the enemy from a from a camouflage trench. They were pinned down by machine gun fire, unable to fall back and evacuate the wounded. They watched incredulously as Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro alone and unstoppable jumped into the trench, cleared it with a rifle in six hand grenades, They said they could see his head bobbing along at times just 10 m away, popping out or popping out to shout grenade before he threw his rounds, one man assaulted his one man assault ended their destruction at an air base outside of Saigon, A sergeant who had been blown out of his track by an RPG and was mobilized in a nearby ditched, watched as the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army soldiers advanced towards him, but every time they did As they approached, they were thwarted by specialist five Birdwell who was laying down devastating fires from his tanks guns. Sergeant smith described Birdwell sitting exposed and fearlessly in the tanks, hats surrounded by a cloud of paint chips from the enemy’s rounds hitting around him. Specialist Bird Wells actions saved many lives, including Sergeant Smith’s in the mountains of Laos. Forward air controllers were supporting a Vietnamese ranger group that was nearly overrun. They took direction from the lone American on the ground, A medevac crew chief Specialist five fuji who crash landed and repeatedly waved off evacuation due to the onslaught of enemy fires. Specialist five. He had been under continuous fire for days and had lost a lot of blood but seemed inexhaustible to the men on the radio. He continuously exposed himself to fires to pinpoint enemy locations and he remains steady and composed as he relayed highly accurate targeting information and when American crews arrived on station to evacuate the remainder of the Vietnamese battalion, Major Duffy was advising. They were amazed. It seemed unfathomable that some 40 men with no food water or ammunition could still be alive amidst the swarm of enemy fighters. It was Major Duffy’s many heroic acts, including calling for strikes on his own position to allow his battalion to retreat that enabled the escape. Major Duffy’s Vietnamese Brothers including Lieutenant Colonel Lee who is here with us today, credit him with saving their battalion from complete annihilation. According to Lieutenant Colonel Lee. He appeared to be fearless many years before in the biting cold near the Changchun river in Korea. Then Lieutenant Pocket jumped off his tank Which was halted by enemy fired as he shouted, let’s go Rangers! As he led his company on foot towards Hill 205. When one of the many platoons were suppressed by machine gun fire, Colonel Puckett ran into the open to draw fire and allow his rangers to locate the gunner. two times he ran across the field and still in good humor shouted, okay, I’m only gonna do this one more time. Colonel Pollard corporal Pollack Watch described him as the bravest man he ever saw. Then decades later, Northern Iraq Sergeant Major Payne and his team entered a building that was burning to rescue hostages from an ISIS compound. The smoke was thick and the air was suppressive li hot. Sorry Major Payne called called for a bolt cutter and exposed himself to enemy fire as he cut the locks and freed the hostages. The call came that the building was collapsing but sorry major pain stayed to assist the fleeing people. As he finally exited the building, his teammates heard him shout, Last man, he was helping the final hostage who had been immobilized by despair. Help us find him find his way to freedom. Beacons of hope in a storm of despair. It’s almost inconceivable to imagine how any person could act the way these men did so what drove them? The answer in these stories tells us these men exhibited unbelievable courage, strength of will and selflessness out of love for their fellow man. What a testament to human potential. These soldiers now have a venerated place in American law and forever will represent the greatness of our country and those who serve it. They will inspire generations of service members who are looking for clarity as they face their own battles. And these stories will be a shining example of what the band of brothers and sisters can compel young people to believe or be today. We use the phrase Army Strong. These men epitomize that phrase in the face of terror. They were pillars of strength, endurance of love that is army strong. Their stories will always be a reminder of the potential strength of the American soldier. So next time you hear someone say Army Strong, I’d ask you to think of them. Thank you gentlemen and your families for your service and unbelievable sacrifice. Two years. Country Army Strong. Thank you. General Martina Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary of the Army, Good morning everyone and welcome to our distinguished guests to our Medal of Honor recipients, to their families and their friends. It’s wonderful to have you with us this morning. Secretary Austin. General Milley, thank you so much for being with us and thank you all of our distinguished guests who are too numerous to name today. We honor six Medal of Honor recipients. Staff. Sergeant Kaneshiro Specialist five Birdwell Major Retired Duffy Colonel Puckett Specialist, five fuji, each of whom fought either in Vietnam in Korea and Sergeant Major Payne who fought in Iraq. We honor these men as soldiers of the world’s greatest land fighting force who went above and beyond the call of duty. We honor their families. We honor their heroism and sacrifice and we honor each of them as individuals as beloved sons, husbands, fathers and grandfathers. Our country calls upon soldiers of the United States Army to fight and win our nation’s wars. Our soldiers go willingly with courage and honor to defend our country, our democracy and our national interests. The six individuals that were inducting into the Hall of Heroes today did just that and so much more. In the moments that mattered most. These men made the choice time and time again to step forward. They reached deep into their personal reserves of faith values and training and in the most dangerous situations they mustered the strength to prevail duty and devotion to their fellow soldiers in arms, animated their selflessness and enabled their uncommon heroism despite their brave achievements, some of our soldiers did not receive the hero’s welcome they deserved when they returned home. As I’m sure some in the audience can remember when our soldiers returned from Vietnam, our country was in considerable turmoil. Our veterans often bore the brunt of that political and social unrest a burden that really was not theirs to bear. And for many veterans and heroes of the Vietnam War, including specialist five Birdwell, the war went into a box that he would never open again. So I’m especially honored this morning to tell you something a little, something about each of our recipients and our heroes. The first honoree I’d like to introduce you to is Staff Sergeant Edward Navarro Koichiro who received our nation’s highest honor for valor posthumously. He is represented here today by his Children, Naomi Tom and retired Master Sergeant john Koichiro Edward Kaneshiro was born to calm and Thomas Kaneshiro in Honolulu Hawaii the eighth of 16 siblings. He graduated from Lei Lei hula High School, the home of the mighty mules in central Oahu and he worked on the family farm until he joined the army in 1959. He was husband to Mitsuko and Dad to Naomi Tom and John and July 19 and in July 1966, he deployed to fight America’s war in Vietnam when his oldest child was 10 and his youngest was just four months old. In Vietnam. Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro was a squad leader with Troop C first Squadron, ninth Cavalry Regiment, first Cavalry Division. He was part of the Blues unit, a unit that took the fight to the enemy when photos were drawn out of their hiding spot. The blues were called to go in and look for the fight. After repeated acts of extraordinary courage, he was killed ultimately by enemy gunfire in March of 1967. In the years that followed Staff Sergeant Koichiro son john who is here today carried on his father’s proud legacy of service to the nation, joining the army as an N. C. O. And he retired as a master sergeant. I’m told that it was the shared experience of wearing the uniform of our nation that helped bring john closer to the man who was his father, a man who he did not get the opportunity to know. Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro, the son of Japanese immigrants, was 13 years old when America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. We can all only imagine what it must have been like for him and his family during that time. And yet he chose to serve our country and go to war on its behalf. More than 20 years later Yesterday, he became the 14th Japanese American recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Great State of Hawaii. And his is a story that is only possible here in the United States of America. Our second Vietnam war hero is specialist five Dwight D Birdwell, a proud son of the Cherokee nation. Mr. Birdwell is a published author, a former chief justice of the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court and the 33rd native American to receive the Medal of honor. He met his wife Virginia also from a Cherokee family when they were still Children. While they had known each other for years. It was only after he returned from Vietnam that they fell in love. Mr. Birdwell is father to Edward and Stephanie father in law to Spike Bighorn of Montana and pa to his twin granddaughters, Willow and raven who are with us today. Mr. Birdwell graduated from Stillwell High School and in 1966, at the age of 18 he enlisted in the regular army as a private. His first overseas assignment was to Korea, where he served in the second Infantry Division Specialist five Birdwell then went on to serve in Vietnam as a gunner with troops C Third Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division Specialist Birdwell lived by the Cherokee creed. Don’t bring shame on your ancestors and on that faithful day, January 31, 1968, those words steadied and sustained him. When Mr. Birdwell returned from Vietnam, he received his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University. With the encouragement of Cherokee nation elders. He pursued his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma. Many of the soldiers who fought with him in Vietnam faced hostility at home for their service and struggled with ptsd alcoholism and myriad other health issues. In one of his classes at Northeastern State, a professor asked those who fought in Vietnam to raise their hands, although he knew some would scorn him. He raised his hand. He was proud to have served and Mr. Birdwell, We are so proud and thankful for your service Specialist five Dennis M. Fuji. He is another proud son of Hawaii. He was born on the island of Kauai and attended Waimea High School. His mother’s family were rice farmers and his stepfather was a mechanic for the Hawaii National Guard. Mr. Fuji is husband to Ray, father to Tiffany and has a nine month old grandson. He is an avid fisherman and the 15th Japanese American to receive the nation’s highest honor for valor In 1967. By the time specialist five Fuji, he enlisted in the army as a private. The Vietnam War was already well underway and that is where he wanted to be Specialist Fuji. He deployed to Vietnam in 1968 where he spent his first nine months assigned to Company C Second Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, fourth Infantry Division. As an assistant machine gunner. His second tour to Vietnam two years later was with the 237th Medical Detachment, 61st Medical Battalion, 37th Medical Group reflecting on his time in the army and his service in Vietnam Specialist Fuji. He expressed that he was driven by a desire to do his fair share. While he was deployed friends and family back home. Asked him why are you there, what are you fighting for? Specialist Fujii told them that he felt called to do for his country, what it needed to defend democracy against communism and to preserve a better life for the people of Vietnam. Thank you. Mr. Fuji for doing immeasurably more than your fair share. Our 4th Vietnam War Hero is major retired John J. Duffy. Major Duffy is dad to Natalie and john and baba to Marcus and Judd. In addition to being one of the most decorated Army veterans of his generation, he is also a poet, a Pulitzer prize nominee, a publisher and the founder of an investment firm In 1955. At the age of 17, he aspired to be a paratrooper and he enlisted in the army as a private. When asked what set him on that particular path, he recalled that his neighbor was a US Army paratrooper and had very shiny boots. These boots made quite an impression on the young john Duffy who decided that he too would become a paratrooper. So, at 17.5, Major Duffy was not only a fully qualified paratrooper, but he now had his own pair of boots, a pair that he kept shined to perfection. Major Duffy prided himself on training. Training hard as he told me yesterday, he attended 17 military schools and received specialized training in things like forward air control, which came in very handy during his four tours in Vietnam. At multiple point in his life of triumphs and tribulations, he asked himself, what should I do next? What is the thing I should be doing? This question led Major Duffy to become a commissioned officer and then to be stationed at Fort Bragg serving with the Special Forces. The war in Vietnam was just beginning and this time for john Duffy, the next thing to do was to volunteer to serve in Vietnam. So in December of 1972 as an advisor to elite South Vietnamese paratroopers. His job was to call in enemy positions to American air power as the only American on the ground. He worked hand in hand with his south Vietnamese counterpart, Lieutenant Colonel Malley, who is also with us here today. Despite the repeated attacks and the wounds he suffered, Major Duffy persisted when Lieutenant Colonel Lee was seriously injured, Duffy led the remaining defenders on Charlie Hill to safety and his partnership with Lieutenant Colonel Lee on the battlefield turned into a lifelong friendship. After retiring from the army, john Duffy became a legend in the special operations community. He is a founding member of the Special Operations Association and a life member of the Special Forces Decade Association, the legion of valor and many more. The fifth hero that we’re honoring today is Colonel retired Ralph Puckett. Junior. Col Puckett was awarded the Medal of Honor in April 2021 and I’m delighted that we’re officially able to indict him into the Hall of Heroes. This morning. Colonel Puckett is a proud son of Georgia. The son of Atticus Puckett, husband to gene Dad to Martha and Thomas and known as Big Daddy to his six grandchildren. He attended the U.S. Academy at West Point and received his commission as an infantry officer in 1949, Colonel Puckett formed and commanded one of the first ranger units after the rangers were disbanded following World War two. And he is considered to be the architect of the modern day ranger regiment. As a ranger instructor at Fort Benning. Colonel Puckett was known to say don’t quit ranger at the turnaround of the 12 mile Foot march. And many soldiers today still recall his encouraging presence with fondness. He believed then as he does now that if a soldier was willing and able to meet the standards that were set, they had the right to be there And being there was important for Ralph Puckett in November 1951 on Hill 222 and later on Hill 205 in Korea where against all odds, his leadership and example helped to save his men to Colonel Puckett. Thank you for your courage for your lifetime of service and for defining what it means to be a ranger for successive generations who followed you. Our final inductee this morning in the Hall of Heroes is Sergeant Major Thomas Patrick Payne. Sergeant Major Payne answered the call to serve after 9 11 enlisting as a private in 2002. He keeps his bible in his pack and wears a cross necklace close to his chest. He’s a proud son of south Carolina. Dad to Elizabeth Aaron and Joshua and husband to Allison. He and his wife Alison met at lake Murray. South Carolina where he was recovering from a grenade blast from Afghanistan they met, they fell in love and the rest is history. As they say, Pat and Allison named their second son josh after Master Sergeant Joshua wheeler, who was killed in action during the hostage rescue operation in New Ouija. If you’ve had the opportunity to meet Sergeant major pain, you’ll notice his no nonsense humility and relentless focus on the mission. But it’s worth knowing that he served in the army’s most elite units, including the 75th ranger Regiment and within several other units in Army Special Operations Command. As he looks back on his life to date and military service, he will tell you that even if you laid out 100 careers in front of him, he would pick this career every time reflecting on the medal of honor that he was awarded in 2020. Sergeant Major Payne is quick to note that he should not be remembered as a recipient, but as a Guardian. Shortly after the hostage rescue Operation Hawija in 2015, I had the opportunity to visit with members of the unit that participated in that operation in Kirkuk province. I remember worrying that day that I did not know what to say to the soldiers, I would meet who had just lost their brother in arms. Master Sergeant wheeler. I still do not have the right words to say today, but what I can say is thank you for your extraordinary courage and valor valor and thank you for the many lives you saved on behalf of a grateful nation and a grateful army. Thanks to all of our Hall of Hero inductees for your extraordinary courage and valor and for the many lives you saved. Thank you for your love of country and all that you have given to it to your families. Thank you for your sacrifice and for sharing your sons, husbands, fathers and grandfathers with all of us. Thank you Secretary Wilmoth, Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary of Defense. Well, good morning everybody. Secretary warmth and General martin. Thank you for your moving tributes to our honorees and thank you for everything that you do for soldiers and their families. It’s also great to be here with General Milley. Thank you for your partnership and your leadership. Chairman Special Welcome to Senator Ernst for joining us today. Thank you for being here to help us recognize some great American heroes. And let me also welcome the families and friends of the recipients who are here today and those who are joining us online, the families of our service members might never wear the uniform, but they serve every bit as much as their loved ones and we know how hard it can be and we can never take it for granted. So from all of us here, thank you for everything that you do now. It’s an honor to spend time with one Medal of honor recipient but being here today with today’s gathering of heroes, this is once in a lifetime, the medal of honor is reserved only for those whose bravery shone out during the chaos in the den of battle, for those who put their lives on the line for their teammates and for those who charge towards danger and went far far above and beyond the call of duty. And today, as you’ve heard, we have the enormous privilege of adding six Medal of Honor recipients to our Hall of Heroes. Now these warriors come from different backgrounds. Their hometowns stretch from New York to Honolulu. They fought in conflicts from Korea to Vietnam to the war against ISIS in their time in uniform Spans nearly 80 years. But they are all soldiers united in their devotion to duty duty to carry out their mission duty to their teammates and the allies who served alongside and duty to democracy and to the country that they love in that sense of duty carried them through incredible acts of courage. You know, none of them set out to be here today, but in these moments they displayed the rare kind of valor deserving of our military’s highest decoration. So let me start with Staff Sergeant Edward kinda Shiro In 1966, he was serving in Vietnam as an infantry squad leader in one day in December. He and his squad were out scouting for open terrain. They didn’t know it but North Vietnamese forces were planning to ambush their teammates through a concealed trench system and when machine gunfire erupted, his squad moved towards the sound and Sergeant Sergeant Kaneshiro threw a grenade right through the aperture of the enemy bunker, stopping the ambush where it started. Then he jumped into the trenches and singlehandedly destroyed one Enemy Group After Another. And because of his bravery, his platoon was able to withdraw from the village and tragically, just a few months later, Sergeant Kenneth Shiro was killed in action by enemy fire. I wish that I could personally thank him for his heroism and his selflessness, but it’s a profound honor to have his Children with us today. And as I told you earlier, I know that you didn’t get enough time with your father and I know that no words of praise can make up for his loss, but I can only imagine how proud you must be of his service and john, I know how proud your father would be of your own military career, including your two deployments to Operation Iraqi Freedom. You have all carried on his legacy and live lives that honor his memory now. Like Sergeant Kaneshiro Specialist Five Dwight Birdwell also jumped into action when his unit came under attack In 1968. During the Tet Offensive. His team was called to protect an allied base near Saigon and they were heavily outnumbered and almost immediately his tank commander was critically wounded and Specialist Birdwell realized that the tank was the only thing between his fellow soldiers and the enemy. So Specialist Birdwell fired anything that he could get his hands on The tank’s main 90 millim gun and then it’s machine gun and at several points he hopped out of the commander’s hatch With his M 16 to get a better shot. Even when he ran out of ammo, he kept on fighting, He made his way down to a downed American helicopter and found two machine guns. His comrade took one and Specialist Birdwell took the other. Now that gun was shot out of his hands and Specialist Birdwell was wounded by the shrapnel but he still refused to leave the battle and Specialist Bird Rail ran through a storm of enemy fire and found a defensive position and to collect and redistribute ammunition to the remaining defenders and then he led a group of his comrades past enemy lines and threw hand grenades to prevent the enemy from advancing and through it all. Specialist Birdwell continued to fight and when he returned home to Oklahoma, he continued to serve, he heard he earned his law degree and went on to preside over the Cherokee Nation’s Judicial Appeals Tribunal as its Chief Justice Specialist Birdwell, you said that you joined the army because you’ve been inspired by the many, many members of the Cherokee Nation who served before you. I hope that you know that your life of service will inspire generations to come Next. It’s specialist five Dennis Fuji And on 24 February 1971, the New York times reported from South Vietnam on his bravery, saying that quote pilots here thought that the man was a hero. Days earlier, Specialist Fuji’s dust off crew had taken off in a helicopter to evacuate South Vietnamese military personnel from a raging battlefield but as they approached they took intense fire and their Huey crash landed and Specialist Fuji was injured in the wreckage. Another American helicopter was able to land nearby and his crewmates climbed aboard. But specialist Fuji was taking too much fire so he signaled to the pilot to take off without him so that the others could get to safety and once the helicopter flew away, he was the only American left on the battlefield. He managed to find a radio and told aviators not to try to come rescue him. There was just too much anti-aircraft fire, he told them and the battlefield was too hot. He was hurt and stranded but he spent the night and the next day administering first aid to wounded South Vietnamese allies in the meanwhile the enemy brought reinforcements and soon the encampment was under renewed assault and Specialist Fuji found yet another radio but he didn’t use it to request a rescue. Instead he called in enemy positions and directed air strikes against them For the next 17 hours and finally a helicopter airlifted him out. But again, they sustain enemy fire and crash landed 2.5 miles away and so exhausted and wounded. He had to wait another two days before reaching safety and specialist fuji people have known you to be a hero ever since and I’m proud to officially add your name to our whole of heroes. Now, in 1972, Major Duffy was a senior adviser to an elite battalion of the South Vietnamese army. He trusted his counterparts and they trusted him and on 14 April their job was simple but gravely dangerous. They had to hold off North North Vietnamese forces at fire support base Charlie for as long as possible. So in the early morning hours Major Duffy snuck up as close as he could to the enemy’s anti-aircraft positions and from there he called in airstrikes. Major Duffy was wounded by shrapnel, but he refused evacuation and when the enemy began bombarding the base with artillery, he put himself in an exposed position so that he could call in more air strikes and finally the enemy went silent without a moment to lose. Major Duffy moved allied soldiers to safer positions and because it was too dangerous for resupply aircraft to land, he redistributed what remained of the ammo and by the next morning the North Vietnamese forces resume their attacks, inflicting even more casualties. Major Duffy organized an evacuation of those who survived and when they reached the exfiltration site. Major Duffy would not leave until all of his brothers in arms were aboard and one of those evacuees is here with us today. Major Duffy’s counterpart. Lieutenant Colonel lee. Gentlemen, thank you both for your service. You know. Years later, Major Duffy remembered being asked if he wanted to go into that battle and he replied, quote, gotta go in. It’s the job, Major Duffy. It is the job, but few have ever done that job with as much valor. So thank you for all that you have done on behalf of our country and today, after delays caused by the pandemic, I’m also glad to officially induct to Medal of honor recipients into the Hall of Heroes. Colonel Ralph Puckett and Sergeant Major Thomas Patrick Payne. Although Colonel Puckett couldn’t be with us in person today, I believe that he’s watching from home. So, good morning Colonel and we’re glad that you’re represented here in person by retired Lieutenant Colonel john Locke. So let’s think back On a frigid morning in 1950, During the Battle of Battle for Hill 205 in the Korean War. First Lieutenant Puckett was commanding the eighth U. S. Army ranger company and he repeatedly put his life at risk running across an open field and courting enemy fire so that his team could spot the Chinese position and as a battleground on he was injured by grenade fragments but he wouldn’t leave. Instead he moved from Foxhole to Foxhole redistributing ammunition and taking care of his men, His compassion and his grit inspired his fellow rangers. And so when he was wounded again, he ordered his men to leave him behind. But they refused and they got him out because Lieutenant Puckett has shown them that true courage means putting your people first and after receiving the Medal of Honor last year, Colonel Puckett thought of his team saying, quote, the people who earn that medal are the rangers who did more than I asked. That’s absolutely right. But Colonel Puckett, you did so much more than your country asked and we salute. You’re a tremendous service. And finally, from Col Puckett’s heroism in 1950, we fast forward some 65 years and shift to Kirkuk province in Northern Iraq and the battle against ISIS in 2015. Then Sergeant first class Patrick Payne was charged with leading a raid to free Iraqis taken hostage hostage by the jihadist. His team knew that ISIS had been holding the prisoners in two buildings. So when Sergeant Payne’s team landed in the dead of night, they cleared one of those buildings and free the hostages and sign. But the second building was under intense fire and starting pain heard on the radio that his fellow soldiers needed help there and he remembers turning to one of his teammates and saying quote, let’s get into the fight. The building was burning and certain pain knew that the prisoners locked inside would die if they weren’t free. So he plunged into the smoke and the enemy fire and found an armored door behind that armored door where dozens of prisoners trapped. Certain pain then traded his rifle for boat cutters and again went into the building. It was on fire and under fire and he broke the lock on the door. Now by this point the beer the building was near collapsing and the soldiers were ordered to evacuate. But certain pain ran back in again to to save more hostages and then he went in again to check that no one was left behind and champagne had said let’s get into the fight and he did angel and over again. And that night he helped to free 75 prisoners, those men and women and their families will never forget that daring rescue and neither will we. So thank you Sergeant Paine and I have to tell you Sergeant Paine. Sergeant major pain. I’m especially grateful because I’m the guy that sent you into that fight as a centcom commander and I will remain grateful to you and your comrades for the incredible, incredible work that you did on that night to save lives. So on behalf of our country, thank you for all that you and your teammates have done. Ladies and gentlemen, President Kennedy once said that a nation reveals itself not only by the man it produces, but also by the man it honors. So today we etch the soldiers names into the hall of heroes to honor their deeds and to remember why American warriors fight. We honor these heroes because they represent the very best of us and we honor these heroes to inspire future generations. May we all find the courage to live up to the example that they have set. May we all find the commitment to serve and defend our republic and may we all find the dedication and duty to our democracy that these heroes have shown. May God bless our Medal of honor recipients and those who serve alongside them and all who love them. Thank you very much. Secretary were Meth General Milley, General martin, Miss Naomi Valeria and Miss Ashley Axon, stress head will now join Secretary Austin on stage for the induction ceremony of staff Sergeant Edward and Koichiro. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated during the presentations. The President of the United States of America authorized by the Act of Congress. March 3 18 63 has post humorously awarded in the name of Congress the medal of honor to Staff Sergeant Edward in Kaneshiro, United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Staff Sergeant Edward N Koichiro distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an infantry squad leader with Troop C First Squadron, ninth Cavalry, First Cavalry Division near to Kim Sun Valley, Republic of Vietnam on one December 1966. Not knowing that the village was heavily fortified with a fully bunkered and concealed the trench system and garrisoned by north Vietnamese troops in vastly superior force. Two squads of the platoon had deployed to its center while Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro and his squad scouted the more open terrain to the east of the village, sensing the opportunity to ambush the infantry squads, the entrenched enemy force erupted with machine gun and small arms fire against the two squads at the center of the village, killing the platoon leader and the point man, wounding four others, then successfully suppressing the surviving soldiers. Staff Sergeant Koichiro moved with his men to the sound of the fire, swiftly reading the situation, saying that the fire from the trench had to be stopped if anyone was to survive, he first deployed his men to cover, then crawled forward to attack the enemy force alone. He began by throwing grenades from the parapet while flattened to the ground, successfully throwing the first grenade through the aperture of the bunker, eliminating the machine gunner who had opened the action with five grenades remaining and his rifle to sustain his assault. Staff Sergeant Kaneshiro jumped into the trench to sweep its length where it fronted the two pandas squads Over the distance of about 35 m. He worked the ditch alone, destroying one enemy group with rifle fire and two others with grenades. By the end of his sweep, the able bodied survivors of the two squads were again standing and preparing to move the dead and wounded Staff Sergeant Kenny Xiros actions enabled the orderly extraction and reorganization of the platoon ultimately led to successful withdrawal from the village. Staff sergeant Kenneth heroes, conspicuous gallantry and uncommon heroism under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself his unit and the United States Army. Okay at this time the Medal of Honor flag will be presented on 23 October 2000 and two. Public Law one oh 7248. Section 81 43 established the Medal of Honor flag to recognize service members who have distinguished themselves by gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty. The Medal of Honor flag commemorates the sacrifice and bloodshed for our freedoms and gives emphasis to the medal of Honor, being the highest award for valor by an individual serving in the armed forces of the United States. The light blue color with gold fringe bearing 13 white stars are adapted from the Medal of Honor ribbon. Thank you Miss Naomi Valeria and Miss Axon shelter Specialist five Dwight Birdwell. Please join Secretary Austin. Secretary Wilmoth, General Milley and General Martin for the induction ceremony. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated during the presentation. The President of the United States of America authorized by Act of Congress. March 3 18 63 has awarded in the name of Congress. The Medal of honor to specialist five Dwight W Birdwell. United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with C Troop, Third Squadron, Fourth Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division in the Republic of Vietnam on 31 January 1968. On this date C Troop was ordered to move south to help repel an enemy attack on Tan Son Airbase. As the C troop column of tanks and armored personnel carriers approached the west gate of tan sand airbase, it came under intense enemy fire from a building to its right. Unbeknown to C troop, it had driven directly into an enemy force consisting of three battalions. The column tried to push through the initial attack, but the lead tank, crippled by a rocket propelled grenade explosion, was blocking the way forward. C Troop immediately came under heavy enemy fire from both sides of the road Specialist five Birdwell, upon saying that his tank commander was wounded by enemy fire, immediately went to his aid under intense enemy fire. He lowered the injured tank commander to the ground and moved him to safety Specialist five Bird Wall. Then with complete disregard for his own safety mounted the tank and assumed the tank commander’s position standing in the tank Commander’s Hatch with the upper half of his body exposed to heavy enemy fire. Specialist Five Birdwell used the tanks, 50 caliber machine gun and 90 millimeter main gun to suppress the enemy attack. With the ammunition for the 90 millimeter main gun exhausted, he continued to fire the 50 caliber machine gun until it overheated. At this point, Specialist Five Birdwell, rather than abandoning his position, continued to engage the enemy with his M 16 rifle, sometimes exposing his entire body to enemy fire in order to engage the enemy from a better vantage point when the United States helicopter crashed nearby, Specialist Five Birdwell under withering enemy fire, dismounted and moved to the helicopter, where he returned with two M 60 machine guns and ammunition. After giving one M- 60 ammunition to a fellow soldier, he re mounted his tank and used the other M- 62 again engage the enemy. Specialist five Birdwell continued to engage the enemy with complete disregard for his own safety until the M60 he was firing was hit by enemy fire Specialist five Birdwell, now wounded in the face, neck, chest, and arms dismounted the tank but refused to be medically evacuated. Instead, Specialist Five Birdwell under enemy fire, rallied fellow soldiers to advance forward toward the front of the armored column where they set up a defensive position by a large tree. From this position, he and the other soldiers engaged the enemy with M- 16 fire and grenades As the enemy fire lessened. Specialist five Birdwell gathered ammunition from the disabled vehicles and helped wounded soldiers move to safer positions. His leadership and tenacity under fire inspired the other c troop soldiers to continue fighting against the superior enemy force and directly contributed to the enemy’s ultimate defeat. Specialist Five Bird Wells, extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army at this time the Medal of Honor flag will be presented by the Secretary of Defense. Thank you. Specialist five Birdwell Specialist five Dennis M. Fuji. Please join Secretary Austin, Secretary Wilmoth, General Milley and General Martin for the induction ceremony. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated during the presentations. The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 18 63 has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of honor to Specialist five Dennis M Fuji. United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Specialist five Dennis M. Fuji distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity beyond the call of duty while serving as crew chief aboard a helicopter ambulance during the rescue operation in Laos Republic of Vietnam during the period of 18 two, February 1971. Specialist five Fuji was serving with a 237th medical detachment, 61st Medical Battalion, 67th Medical Group. The team’s mission was to evacuate seriously wounded Vietnamese military personnel from the midst of a raging battlefield. The aircraft’s primary approach to the bullet infested landing zone was thwarted by heavy volumes of enemy fire directed at the specialists helicopter. As the pilot made a second landing attempt, the enemy consume concentrated a barrage of flak at the air ambulance which damaged the craft and caused it to crash in the conflict area, injuring specialist five Fuji. Moments later, another American helicopter successfully landed near the wreckage of the specialists airship and extracted all the downed crewmen except for specialist five Fuji who was unable to board due to the intense enemy fire directed at him rather than further endanger the lives of his comrades aboard. The second helicopter specialist Five Fuji waved the craft out of the combat area and remained behind as the only American on the battlefield. Subsequent attempts to rescue the specialists were aborted due to the violent anti-aircraft fire Specialist five Fuji finally secured a radio and informed the aviators in the area that the landing zone was too hot for further evacuation attempts during the night and all through the next day, Specialist Five fuji disregarded his own wounds as he administered first aid to the allied casualties On the night of 19 February. The Allied Perimeter came under ruthless assault by a reinforced enemy regiment supported by heavy artillery. Once again obtaining a radio transmitter. Specialist Fuji called in American helicopter gunships to assist the small unit in repelling the attack For a period of over 17 consecutive hours. Specialist five Fuji repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire as he left the security of his entrenchment to better observe enemy troop positions and to direct air strikes against them. At times the fighting became so vicious that specialist five Fuji was forced to interrupt radio transmittal in order to place a suppressive rifle fire on the enemy while at close quarters The wounded and severely fatigued. By 20 February, the specialist bore the responsibility for the protection and defense of the friendly encampment until an American helicopter could land an attempt to airlift him from the area As his air ambulance left the Battlefield, it received numerous hits and was forced to crash land at another South Vietnamese Ranger base approximately four km from the specialists original location. The totally exhausted specialist five Fujii remained at the Allied camp for two more days until another helicopter could return him to Phu Bai for medical assistance. On 22 February, Specialist five Fuji’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army. Mhm. At this time the medal of honor flag will be presented by the Secretary of Defense. Thank you. Specialist five Fuji Major Retired john Duffy. Please join Secretary Austin. Secretary Wilmoth. General Milley and General martin for the induction ceremony. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated during the presentation. The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 18 63 has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Major john J Duffy, United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Major John J. Duffy distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the senior advisor to the 11th Airborne Battalion, 2nd Brigade, Airborne Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam in the Republic of Vietnam. During the period of 14 to 15 April 1972. In the two days preceding the events of the 14th to 15th April 1972, the commander of the 11th Airborne Battalion was killed. The battalion command post was destroyed and Major Duffy was twice wounded but refused to be evacuated. Then, on 14 April, major Duffy directed the defense of fire support base Charlie which was surrounded by a battalion sized enemy element in the morning. Hours after a failed effort to establish a landing zone for resupply aircraft, he moved close to enemy anti-aircraft positions to call in airstrikes. At this time, Major Duffy was again wounded by fragments from a recoilless rifle round and again refused medical evacuation. Shortly thereafter the enemy began an artillery bombardment on the base and he remained in exposed positions to direct gunships on the enemy positions which eventually silenced the enemy fire. Following the bombardment, Major Duffy assessed the conditions on the base and personally ensured the wounded friendly foreign soldiers were moved to positions of relative safety and the remaining ammunition was appropriately distributed among the remaining defenders. Shortly thereafter the enemy resumed indirect fire on the base. Expending estimated 300 rounds. Nevertheless, he remained in an exposed position to direct fire gunships on the enemy positions. In the late afternoon hours, the enemy began a ground assault from all sides of the fire base and Major Duffy moved from position to position to adjust fire, spot targets for artillery observers and ultimately to direct gunship fire on a friendly position which had been compromised. As the evening wore on, it became clear that the defenders could not withstand the overwhelming enemy forces and he began to organize an evacuation of the fire base under the cover of night. With the goal of a complete withdrawal, Major Duffy was the last man off the base remaining behind to adjust the covering fire from gunships until the last possible moment when the acting battalion commander was wounded, he assumed command of the evacuation and maintained communication with the available air support to direct fire on the enemy. In the early morning hours of 15 April the enemy ambushed the battalion inflicting additional casualties and scattering some of the able bodied soldiers. Major Duffy organized defensive positions during the ambush and ensured the friendly foreign forces could successfully repulsed the enemy. After withstanding the ambush, he led the evacuees, many of whom were significantly wounded, to an established evacuation area. Despite being continually pursued by the enemy. Upon reaching the exfiltration site, Major Duffy directed gunship fire on enemy positions and marked the landing zone for the helicopters. Only after ensuring all the evacuees were aboard, did Major Duffy board while also assisting a wounded friendly foreign soldier in with him. Once on board, he administered aid to a helicopter door gunner who had been wounded during the evacuation. Major Duffy’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself his unit and the United States Army At this time the Medal of Honor flag will be presented by the Secretary of Defense. Thank you Major Duffy Mr. john Locke, the Representative for Colonel Retired ralph Puckett, please join Secretary Austin. Secretary room with General Milley and General martin for the induction ceremony. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated during the presentations. The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3 18 63 has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant ralph Puckett, Junior United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. First Lieutenant ralph Puckett JR distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the commander, Eighth United States Army ranger company during the period of 25 November 1950 through 26 November 1950 in Korea. As his unit commenced a daylight attack on hill 205 the enemy directed mortar machine gun and small arms fire against the advancing force to obtain supporting fire. First Lieutenant Puckett mounted the closest tank, exposing himself to the deadly enemy fire leaping from the tank. He shouted words of encouragement to his men and began to lead the rangers in the attack. Almost immediately enemy fire threatened the success of the attack by pinning down one platoon, leaving the safety of his position with full knowledge of the danger. First Lieutenant Puckett intentionally ran across an open area three times to draw enemy fire, thereby allowing the rangers to locate and destroy the enemy positions and to seize hill 205 during the night the enemy launched a counterattack that lasted four hours over the course of the counterattack. The rangers were inspired and motivated by the extraordinary leadership and courage example exhibited by First Lieutenant Puckett. As a result five human wave attacks by battalion size strength. Enemy elements were repulsed during the first attack. First Lieutenant Puckett was wounded by grenade fragmentation but refused to evacuate and continually directed artillery support that decimated attacking enemy formations, repeatedly abandoning positions of relative safely to make his way from foxhole to foxhole to check the company’s perimeter and distribute ammunition amongst the rangers. When the enemy launched a 6th attack, it became clear to first lieutenant Puckett that the position was untenable due to the unavailability of support artillery fire. During this attack, two enemy mortar rounds landed in his foxhole inflicting grievous wounds which limited his mobility knowing his men were in a precarious situation. First Lieutenant Puckett commanded the rangers to leave him behind and evacuate the area, feeling a sense of duty to aid him. The rangers refused the order and staged an effort to retrieve him from the foxhole while still under fire from the enemy. Ultimately the rangers succeeded in retrieving First Lieutenant Puckett and they moved to the bottom of the hill where First Lieutenant Puckett called for devastating artillery fire on top of the enemy controlled hill. First Lieutenant Puckett’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. His unit and the United States Army at this time the Medal of Honor flag will be presented by the Secretary of Defense. Thank you Mr. Luck. Sergeant Major Thomas Paine please join. Secretary Austin. Secretary were meth General Milley and General martin for the induction ceremony. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated during the presentations, The President of the United States of America authorized by act of Congress, March 3 18 63 has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant first class Thomas Payne, United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant first class Thomas P. Payne distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on October 22nd, 2015, during a daring nighttime hostage rescue in Kirkuk province Iraq in support of operation inherent resolve. Sergeant Payne led a combined assault team charged with clearing one of two buildings known to house the hostages With speed, audacity and courage. He led his team as they quickly cleared the signed building, liberating 38 hostages. Upon hearing a request for additional assaulters to assist with clearing the other building. Sergeant pain on his own initiative, left his secured position, exposing himself to enemy fire as he bounded across the compound to the other building from which entrenched enemy forces were engaging his comrades. Sergeant Payne climbed a ladder to the building’s roof which was partially engulfed in flames and engaged enemy fighters below with grenades and small arms fire. He then moved back to the ground level to engage the enemy forces through a breach hole in the west side of the building knowing time was running out for the hostages trapped inside the burning building. Sergeant Payne moved to the main entrance where heavy enemy fire had thwarted previous attempts to enter. He knowingly risked his own life by bravely entering the building under intense enemy fire and during smoke, heat and flames to identify the armored door, imprisoning the hostages upon exiting Sergeant Payne exchanged his rifle for bolt cutters and again entered the building, ignoring the enemy rounds impacting the walls around him as he cut the locks on the complex locking mechanism. His courageous actions motivated by the collation assault team members to enter the breach and assist with cutting the locks. After exiting to catch his breath, he reentered the building to make the final lock cuts, freeing 37 hostages. Sergeant Payne then facilitated the evacuation of the hostages even though ordered to evacuate the collapsing building himself, which was now structurally unsound due to the fire. Sergeant Payne then reentered the burning building one last time to ensure everyone had been evacuated. He consciously exposed himself to enemy automatic gunfire each time he entered the building. His extraordinary heroism and selfless actions were key to liberating 75 hostages during a contested rescue mission that resulted in 20 enemies killed in action. Sergeant First Class Paine’s gallantry under fire and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. The United States Special Operations Command and the United States Army at this time. The Medal of Honor flag will be presented by the Secretary of Defense. Thank you. Sergeant Major pain Mrs. Valeria, Miss Jackson Specialist five Birdwell Specialist five Fuji Major Duffy and Mr. Luck please join senior leaders and sergeant Major pain on the stage. The Medal of Honor plaque will now be unveiled in docents. Staff sergeant ken Ichiro Specialist five Birdwell Specialist five fuji Major Duffy. Colonel Puckett junior and Sergeant Major Pain into the Hall of Heroes. Mhm. Okay. Thank you. Secretary Austin. Secretary room with General Milley. General martin specialist five Birdwell Specialist five fuji Major Duffy Mr. Locke and Sergeant Major Payne. No ladies and gentlemen, Miss Ashley and Miss Naomi Viloria. Mhm mm. Good morning. My name is Naomi Valeria here with my niece Ashley Exxon. Shell stead to represent the conditional family. Our father, staff Sergeant Edward was born in Honolulu Hawaii on July 22, 1928. He came from a large family. The 8th child of 16 siblings. After graduating from high school in on the island of Oahu. He worked on the family farm for almost 10 years before joining the army While serving in the army with the 1st Calvary Division in Vietnam. He was killed in action on March 6, 1967. Our mother became a widow and a single mother at 35 years old. She began a life of tremendous difficulty raising five Children alone. The oldest daughter was 10 and the youngest son at only four months old. Our mother never said a word about our father or the war all these years because the grief was just too profound. We were all very young when our father died as years passed and stories were told, we knew that our father was a proud soldier who carried traits of duty, honor and pride into war. On December 1, 1966, he was a squad leader of his platoon during a mission in Qin Song Valley Vietnam when his unit came under fire from a heavily fortified village of North Vietnamese troops. Without being told what to do by anyone. He crawled forward to attack it alone using six grenades and an M 16 rifle. His brave and selfless act not only saved the lives of US soldiers but also resulted in success for the next mission of the army forces sadly just three months later he was killed by enemy fire. As we grew up, were able to read and learn about our father through conversations with relatives and reading newspaper articles. We realized how heroic his actions were. When we learned that he was recommended for the medal of honor, we’re all well aware that this was the highest honor the country could bestow on a serviceman. My youngest brother john helped add to that perspective. He followed in our dad’s footsteps as an American soldier and we were very proud john accepted the medal of honor from president joe Biden yesterday on behalf of the conditional family john joined ROTC during high school and joined the US army. Upon graduating, he continued his service as an army reservist and completed two deployments to the Middle East during Operation Iraqi freedom. He carried on the legacy of army service from what we remember from our childhood we call our dad being a very quiet and humble man. We believe he would not want attention directed at him because we presume he thought all he did on the battlefield was his duty. We believe our dad would be, would have been honored to receive the Medal of honor but would not want all of us. This week has shed new light above his bravery though my mother never spoke of the war, my father’s military service, she too would have been so proud. Our mother passed away this year on April 10 at the age of 90 and will rest in peace with our dad at the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the pacific in his home state of Hawaii on July 22nd, which happens to be his birthday. Our family is extremely honored and overwhelming gratitude that our father’s heroic actions to save his fellow soldiers and his duty to country has finally been recognized with this very prestigious award of the medal of Honor and to be inducted into the pentagon’s Hall of Heroes for future generations. My niece Ashley has a few words to tell her grandpa. If my grandfather were here today, I would tell him I’m so proud to be your granddaughter. I’m proud of your service and your bravery. I gave my son a middle name. Nobody in your honor. His name is Sebastian Noboru Axon. And we will teach him our family traits you took into battles, duty, honor and pride. And I will be so proud if my child decides to join the army. I’m so proud that you and uncle john were soldiers and I am proud of the American soldier and to all the soldiers who served with my grandpa. Thank you And for all those who served and are still serving. Thank you. Our family is grateful and extremely proud that my grandfather, Staff Sergeant Edward zero is being inducted into the Hall of Heroes. Thank you. Okay, right, thank you. Miss Ashley accentuated And Miss Naomi Valeria. Ladies and Gentlemen Specialist five Birdwell. This may be a bit painful for me and if I don’t keep it short it’s gonna be painful for you. But I want to thank my creator. I want to thank President Biden, the United States Army General Otis who was my commander that day and never stop supporting this effort which resulted in the Medal of honor. Also thanks to my family and the Cherokee notion and for the man who were there and a man who didn’t make it this award is for you and by this award, the world will now know that we accomplished something very important that day. We saved Thompson air base from the enemy. Thank you. Mhm Thank you specialist five Birdwell Ladies and gentlemen, Major Duffy. I prepared a poem as I am a poet and I want to tell my view of the story Which was more than two days we were up Panchali For almost two weeks. It’s my retrospective on Charlie. I thought I would escape staff duty in Saigon. I volunteer for advisor duty with the Vietnamese Airborne. My associates described me as foolish with the war winding down. Why get killed on why got killed As we are pulling out the Vietnamese can handle it. I disregard all their well-intentioned advice as I am a soldier and I have no desire to fight in a war zone. From behind the desk I put on my camouflage fatigues and my cocky red beret. Not too bad if I say so myself. Now I am outfitted to join my paratroopers. I fight on New Ibadan or translated Black Virgin Mountain. I fight, entertain and forest too many tunnels there. Next I fight on Rocket Ridge in a place called Charlie. My team of four is short men. I am a team of one. I air assault in with 470 paratroopers and come out with 37. We are surrounded by a division anti-aircraft guns ring Charlie. The landing zone is untenable With 10 anti-aircraft guns above us helicopters resupply is precluded as the N. V. A controlled the airspace above us. N. V. A artillery fire blows up my bunker, what may still in it. I crawl out over the dead bodies, my head ringing from a concussion. My counterpart, the battalion commander is killed. The Excel majorly may assumes command of the battalion. N. V. A. Artillery fire blows up Start again with eight n. v. a battalions task to take Charlie, bass. Most on Charlie are wounded or killed in the battle. Medical evacuation is not possible for the wounded, our orders or fight to the death. two weeks the paratroopers fight even without ammunition, they fight with their bayonets and entrenching tools until it is get out or get killed in the next attack skedaddle. We choose li mei and myself becoming the rear God! One battalion of NVA attacked on our western trench line. I request the gunship stopped them as we are short on ammo flying low machine guns and grenades expanding rockets blasting the cobra’s stopped the N. B. A. Leaving them dead and dying ordinance expanded and low on fuel. The Cobra’s depart li mei and I hunker down maintaining a low profile to N. V. A battalions come out of the jungle in a follow up attack. We had withdrawn. They take our western trench line. They are befuddled as their first attack had failed. They search for paratroopers, but none are there. They organized search party to sweep Charlie. They send a company to search east, moving towards us, they spot us may leave fires at them. They take cover a little more cautious now they know where we are. The N. V. A soon opened up upon us. Malay is hit and down. He’s back up again, firing at them. No way he can stop them. I’m on the radio. The cobras are coming back, coming in above us. Get down, get down! The choppers are incoming with guns blazing. The cobras are firing hot shells casing dropping down upon us. The N. V. A sweep force is bloody smashed and broken, wounded but still alive. We get up and run away from debt. On the run. I contact the forward air controller in the sky Request be 50 to talk like target to envy a battalions in the open on Charlie, we soon link up with our withdrawing paratroopers. The fact advises the B 50 Arclight is diverted one minute until bomb release, I roger the fact and tell everyone to get down and defile. It bombs released 90 seconds until impact. Get down. We hold onto our steel pots mouths open. We hugged the earth. The whistling bombs of debt are heard by all Charlie explodes in fiery flashes blasting and killing to ground tremors, leaves and the breeze fall down. No one could survive. Black smoke bellows high into the sky. The victorious NVA battalions on Charlie are destroyed. two weeks in battle have ravaged their formations. Thus this final victory will be a difficult one to celebrate as Black Smoke arises from their envy a funeral prior we are recovering from the shock and the blast mainly is coughing up blood as the doc works on him. He tells me take command of the battalion. You saved the men. I am now the commander. I order a night march. True to pitch black jungle. My paratroopers follow me. No one can see in the dark. The night explodes with bright flashes, art irian packs, it is friendly fire, some fool’s error. I checked fire. We lose three killed and seven wounded. I am furious. The night march continues until dawn arrives. We stopped now out of the jungle by the poco river. Malley bandit is fit to command. I brief him. No helicopters are available. Brigade orders us to walk out. The orders are given and we make ready to march, incoming, incoming the blast rockets, impacting mortar rounds drop amongst us. The wounded cry out the N. V. A spring an ambush. Troop is panic and scatter. I reach for my radio. It is hit by a bullet and destroyed. The command group is intact plus 30 men. I grabbed my car. 15 I it. Follow me mainly gathers to command group and as many as he can mai lee covers me. I move rapidly away from the kill zone, one kilometer, one kilometer distance. I find a clearing in the landing zone. Malley sets up the perimeter and redistributes ammunition. Um um nice small survival radio trying to raise a forward air controller Covey 55 comes in. I request a four ship lift package for our group of 37. Some wounded covey will try to rustle up an extraction package the N. V. A. Follow outbreak out trail through the jungle. We see them approaching in a stream bed. I request immediate a one d. och cobra gunship support. We hunkered down with two little animal to engage a pair of sandy A one ease come up on my radio. I target the enemy unit that is of tracking us. I request that the Sandy’s destroyed the N. V. A. in two passes, guns and bombs eliminate the threat more N. V. A. Keep popping up in different locations. I direct fire Two more flights of a. one ease onto the enemy. Waiting for our lift package. I engaged engaged with cobras. The N. V. A. Are setting up on the jungle’s edge. Also waiting Huey lead comes up on my radio. Dusty cyanide. We are directed to have you depart on the first ship. I advise. I will be on the last Ship. Last man out on number four Roger dusty. We will be on. You will be on the last ship about acknowledged. 37 are formed into four sticks. The first lift is is in wounded loaded troop is boarding lifting off an N. V. A. Machine gunner opens up on them. The cobra’s with the lift package attack and destroy the gun Lift two comes in the paratroopers scramble aboard. He is out lift tree in and out without taking fire. We have the last five lift four approaches he is taking fire, he aborts and approaches from a new direction he comes in low touchdown, we scramble onto the aircraft. I’m detail gunner, I ride the strut and signal thumbs up, ping, ping, ping, ping. The chopper is riddled by gunfire. Captain High hit in the leg, falls out of the helicopter on the strut, I grab his webbing and fling him back inside, mainly helps me pull him in and starts treating his wound. The crew chief is shot out twisting in the wind. His ted are holding him in trail behind the aircraft. I pull him inside and find the entry wound in his chest. I quick patches wound and I look for the exit wound. It is big and it is bubbling, I start to treat him. The bubble stopped, mount to mount does not help to revive him. He is K. I. A. The helicopter flies to the medical station we touched down, drop off our wounded and dead. We fly back to brigade headquarters to report, they are amazed that we are still alive and did that retrospective from my viewpoint and I will conclude with a much shorter thought on this and it’s called victory or debt knowledge victor in Latin. The battle for firebase Charlie was consuming it, killed those who tried to take the base battalions of N. V. A. Vanished in a milestone. The paratroop is holding Charlie suffered horrifically. It was a brutal battle. No quarter asked none given you killed the enemy or the enemy killed you. It was simple formula and it cost lives. Both sides offered up valor and courage. But in reality it was a fight for survival. We all wanted to live to see our families again in war. There is only one winner and one loser, No 1 1 on Charlie. Each side managed to lose. This is the limit in a battle of fight to the debt. When each side forges ahead without regard to losses. The butcher’s Bill is atrociously high and sobering. Each side weeps for its losses and mourns the fallen. Thank you. Thank you. Major Duffy. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Locke, good morning to our distinguished guests and especially the Colonel ralph pockets fill a medal of honor recipients and their families. He is honored to be considered one of you. While Colonel Puckett is unable to attend today. Both he and his wife Jeannie are here in spirit in their stead. I am privileged to have been asked to speak on his behalf as our honored representatives. They requested just one thing of me, fewer words have more impact Given that commanders guidance, I’ve opted for what I’ll call contingency plan three B Be specific, be brief and be gone somewhat easier said than done as I’m sure you’ll soon appreciate. Col Puckett graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1949 as an infantry officer with the outbreak of war in Korea the following year, he immediately volunteered to serve in the first major conflict of the Cold War. Recognized for his character. Delete and passion to serve. Lieutenant bucket was selected to organize, train and command the newly created Eighth Army ranger company. Within six weeks, this elite ranger company was riding into combat on the decks of Sherman tanks as part of the 25th Infantry Division Spearhead into North Korea And advance, which eventually brought the Rangers to a Barren Ridge Line 60 miles from the Chinese border. Colonel Puckett’s actions that night of 24 25 November 1950 during the Battle of Hill 205 are highlighted and documented in his Medal of Honor citation and thus need not to be recounted here. However, for those who know Colonel Pocket, There’s nothing about his courage on Hill 205. That surprises us. His actions were simply as one ranger succinctly put it Ralph being Ralph while Colonel bucket suffered grievous wounds, wounds during that fight for the Hill 205 and endured long recovery. The battle line proved to be the start of an exceptional career. As President Biden remarked during the May 2021 medal of honor ceremony, quote. Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that ralph Puckett serviced or nation did not end in the Korean war. It did not end after a service in the Vietnam War. It did not end after his retirement from active duty unquote. During Vietnam Colonel bucket would once again volunteer in 1967 for a tour combat battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division where he earned the moniker the ranger. It was a description exemplified on many an occasion, such as during one dire night long firefight when a hard pressed infantry platoon leader preparing for a defensive last stand recalled the effect his battle recalled the effect on his battle exhausted men quote, word of Colonel Puckett’s arrival spread like wildfire. We all stiffened up and felt that nothing bad could happen now because the ranger was with us, unquote sharing the danger and hardships with his men, epitomizes ralph Puckett’s warrior ethos of combat leadership. All told by the time the ranger retired 1971 after 22 years of active duty service, His ribbon rack would reflect among other awards, the Medal of honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, two silver stars, three legions of merit, two bronze stars with v device for valor, five purple hearts and 10 air medals. In addition, as a combat infantryman’s badge with star Special Forces tab. The ranger tab master, parachutist wings and Colombian Ranchero ranger badge though he himself would never say so. The case we made that he is the most decorated soldier for valor in US army history, Retirement from active duty did not signal an end to service though. For the next 20 years, the Ranger continued focus on the leadership and teamwork, development of youth until 1990, when the puck, it’s returned home to Columbus Fort Benning Georgia. There, the colonel became a prominent speaker and instructor regarding all topics, infantry and leadership related In 1992 is an inaugural inductee into the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame. From 1996 to 2008. He served as the honorary colonel the same fifth ranger Regiment. An unprecedented and unequaled 12 year period under seven consecutive regimental commanding officers, a period of time that included trips to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Whereas rangers helped him celebrate his 80th birthday, Continued to file the criminal to include selection as the 2004 distinguished graduate of West Point. And in 2007, recipient of the Infantry’s Doughboy Award. Such honors though we’re only a byproduct of leadership philosophy that also embraced social change within the army as a leader. Colonel Puckett was all inclusive. The president Truman had only recently desegregated the army in 1948. Lieutenant Puckett selected to African Americans who served with the eighth Army ranger Company in 1950 to quote the colonel later, we were all Americans are blood was the same color red Later in 2015, when women were authorized to attend the US Army Ranger School. Colonel Puckett was one of the first to proclaim if they meet the standards. They are rangers for decades. Colonel Puckett has mentored and counseled soldiers at all levels levels from senior officers and noncommissioned officers to junior enlisted general. Sam McChrystal captured the essence of this by stating, quote, if we measure ralph Puckett’s accomplishments and we only include the medal of honor, we are almost missing the point. Ralph Puckett’s awards are thousands of young rangers, many of whom were still fairly young that he’s touched by his example and his actions. That’s the real monument to him. Unquote. While I have my own personal Colonel Puckett stories over 30 years when I reflect on who the criminal is and what he represents. It is not at the White House ceremony with the President of United States placing the medal of honor around his neck or the dozens of senior officers and N. C. O. S whom the colonel so positively influenced over his decades of service in and out of uniform. It is not the overwhelming number of ribbons, badges and patches on his uniform or the awards and accolades conveyed to him by others in reality is a singular picture taking the day prior to the White House ceremony at a private lunch held in the colonel’s honor at the pentagon though. Being honored by the secretary Chief of Staff Sergeant, Major of the army. What did this picture captured? It captured the then 94 year old colonel in the corner of the room. Speaking one on one with a young waiter. Those of us who know the colonel well know that given the choice between a general or a private talk to to mentor, the ranger will always seek out the private first. The colonel’s philosophy of leadership. His moral compass is predicated on a cadet prayer that West Point graduates. A spouse less a religious invocation and moral code to live by both professionally and personally. And extract reads. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be one. In the end, it was never about medals, awards, praise or recognition. It was not about rank, position or prestige it was and it always is about the harder right instead of the easier wrong about his rangers and his soldiers. Colonel Ralph Puckett does not set the example. He lives the example. He is a legacy that may be equaled by few but surpassed by none on behalf of Colonel Puckett, his family and his Eighth Army ranger company comrades in arms. Thank you for your time. Stay safe, rangers lead the way. Right. Yeah, Thank you Mr. Locke. Ladies and gentlemen, Sergeant Major pain to the President of the United States of America. The Department of Defense changing the man and my fellow Americans. Thank you. This is truly an honor. The hostage rescue raid on October 22nd 2015 highlights our country’s undying commitment to life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Many of the United States Special Operations Command risked their lives and Master Sergeant Joshua wheeler gave his life in order to liberate the press so that the liberated now have the second chance of life and the pursuit of happiness anytime our boots hit the ground, we’re ambassadors of American way of life. As soon as we infield behind enemy lines on the hostage rescue, we were an intense firefight. Our current partners were engaged in perfect interlocking sectors of fire. Master Sergeant wheeler knew it had to be done and he did not hesitate. He looked back at Miller. Assaulter gave the command on me on me as a command that fearless leaders give to lead, motivate and inspire. On the field of battle. Josh gave the Cuban on me and those were his last words as he led the way running toward the sound of guns, josh’s actions set the standard that was our duty to liberate the oppressed and complete the mission. All the assaulters held down the breach point all the way down to the last magazine. My bullets are ripping through their uniform, a witness of Salter’s fearlessly fight on the rooftop of a burning building while engaging ISIS combatants as the enemy initiated multiple suicide vest underneath our feet. All the assaulters began breaching the prison windows. While sustained rate of any machine gun fire poured out of the burning building my teammates, the heroes of the hostage rescues actions are the epitome of selfless service. Their legacy along with the legacy of the 9 11 generation will live on with this Medal of honor in the spirit of the mill of honor. Lives inside every great American to the next generation of great American warriors. Keep your aim true, stay vigilant and be prepared to push our army to new limits. We look for the grace in the field of battle and destroying the enemy with you. Thank you. I look forward to serving our great country as the Medal of Honor Guardian rangers lead the way and from the words of master sergeant josh wheeler on me. Okay, thank you Sergeant, Major pain Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and join in the singing of the army song. The words to the army song can be found in your program. March along. Sing a song with the army of the free Count. The brave Count. The truth who had fought to victory. We’re the army and proud of our name. We’re the army and proudly proclaim first to fight for the right and to build the nation’s might and the army goes rolling along, proud of all we have done fighting till the battle’s won and the army goes rolling along. Then it’s hi hi hey, the army is on its way. Count off the cane and sound and strong for where we go. You will always know that the Army goes rolling along, right? This concludes the Medal of Honor induction ceremony. Thank you for attending.