Episode 2750 – Medal of Honor tribute to Army SFC Class Melvin Morris

Army Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Army Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris earned the Medal of Honor in 2014 for actions he took in Vietnam on Sept. 17, 1969.

Retired U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Retired U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Medal of Honor recipient, wears his 55-year old Green Beret, Jan. 31, 2017, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. Morris’s Green Beret has never left his side since the day President John F. Kennedy visited Fort Bragg and authorized U.S. Army Special Forces to wear Green Berets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phil Sunkel)
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Episode 2750 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Army SFC Class Melvin Morris and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Army SFC Class Melvin Morris. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that In 1969, Army Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris waded through a blistering firefight in Vietnam to rescue a fallen comrade and keep crucial information out of the enemy’s hands. He was injured three times during the fight, but after recovering, went on with his military career. Forty-four years later, the initial accolades Morris received for his actions were upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Lange added this about Melvin Morris, he was born Jan. 7, 1942, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, a rural community east of Oklahoma City. His father, John, was a handyman who found work when he could, while his mother was a homemaker. Morris said when he was young, he enjoyed fishing, hunting and hanging out with his three brothers and four sisters.

There weren’t many Black men in the Oklahoma Army National Guard in the late 1950s, but the service was recruiting, so in 1959, Morris signed up. After about a year, he requested to join the active-duty Army. He attended artillery and airborne training before deciding he wanted to join the newly created Special Forces. He started that training in 1961, and by September 1963, was a fully qualified Green Beret.

While he was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Morris met Mary Nesbitt, whom he married three months later. The pair went on to have two sons and a daughter before he volunteered to go to Vietnam in February 1969.

Listen to episode 2750 and discover more about Army SFC Class Melvin Morris and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

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Episode 2749 – Medal of Honor tribute to Army Spec 5 Dennis M. Fujii

Medal of Honor Recipient Army Spec 5 Dennis M. Fujii, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Medal of Honor Recipient Army Spec 5 Dennis M. Fujii

Army Spc. 5 Dennis Fujii returns home, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Army Spc. 5 Dennis Fujii returns home to Hawaii from Vietnam with a hero’s welcome, 1971.

Episode 2749 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Army Spec 5 Dennis M. Fujii and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Army Spec 5 Dennis M. Fujii. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that In 1971, Army Spc. 5 Dennis M. Fujii spent five grueling days fending off enemy fighters after his medevac helicopter crashed during a rescue attempt in Laos. During that time, he took care of wounded South Vietnamese soldiers and found a way for U.S. air support to successfully extract him. Fujii recently received the Medal of Honor for those actions, more than 50 years after the ordeal made him a hero.

Lange added this about Dennis Fujii. he was born March 1, 1949, in Hanapepe on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. He was one of six children of Gladys and Charles Fujii, the latter of whom had served in the National Guard.

Fujii enlisted in the Army in the middle of his senior year of high school in 1968, and he was able to earn his diploma while he was in the service. He deployed to Vietnam that same year as an assistant machine gunner with the 4th Infantry Division.

The young soldier returned home but was deployed again in 1970, this time with the 237th Medical Detachment, 61st Medical Battalion of the 67th Medical Group.

On Feb. 18, 1971, Fujii was serving as the crew chief aboard a medevac helicopter, which was sent to evacuate seriously wounded South Vietnamese soldiers from a raging battle in Laos.

Listen to episode 2749 and discover more about Army Spec 5 Dennis M. Fujii and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

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Episode 2748 – Medal of Honor tribute to Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger

Medal of Honor recipient Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger poses for a photo at Udorn Air Base, Thailand. It was taken shortly before his death in March 1968 during a battle at a secret U.S. radar site on a mountain peak in Laos.

Episode 2748 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that many military men and women do heroic things that they can’t get credit for because they’re involved in classified missions. For Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Loy Etchberger, he finally did get credit in the form of the Medal of Honor 42 years after he lost his life saving others during the Vietnam War.

Lange added this about Richard Etchberger. he was born March 5, 1933, in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, to Donald and Kathryn Etchberger. He had an older brother named Robert.

When their father lost his job after the Pearl Harbor attacks, both boys started to work odd jobs to help with finances. Eventually, the family moved to nearby Minersville, Pennsylvania, so his dad could find more work. There, Etchberger became a star basketball player and excelled in academics. His brother said it helped that he had a photographic memory.

Etchberger enlisted in the Air Force. He initially wanted to be a pilot, his brother said, but due to an injury that lingered from his basketball days, he washed out of aviation school. Instead, he was trained as a radio operator and came to be known to be an electronics whiz.

Etchberger was assigned to the 1043rd Radar Evaluation Squadron and placed on a top-secret Air Force/CIA mission code-named Project Heavy Green. It called for Etchberger and a small team to go to a small radar station on top of a remote mountain in Laos that was being used to direct U.S. air support to North Vietnam during the early years of the war.

Listen to episode 2748 and discover more about Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

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Episode 2747 – Medal of Honor tribute to U.S. Marine SMJ John L. Canley

Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne,

A portrait of retired Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, taken July 9, 2018. President Donald J. Trump presented Canley with the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony, Oct. 17, 2018, for his heroic actions during the Battle of Hue City while serving in Vietnam.

Episode 2747 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about U.S. Marine SMJ John L. Canley and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Vietnam Vet Gets Medal of Honor After 50-Year Wait. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that It’s been 50 years since John L. Canley, then a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, led his company in a brutal weeklong fight against North Vietnamese troops, saving hundreds of people from harm during the infamous Battle of Hue City. Today, he received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Lange added this about him. Canley received a Navy Cross two years after the battle, but many of the men who served under him thought he deserved the nation’s highest honor. After years of bureaucratic delays, their campaign succeeded. Now 80, and retired at the rank of sergeant major, he is the 300th Marine to have earned the nation’s highest military honor.

The Battle of Hue City was one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. It was part of the surprise attack by North Vietnamese troops that’s famously known as the Tet Offensive.

Canley was a gunnery sergeant for Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, during a weeklong portion of the battle to retake the city.

On Jan. 31, 1968, the company came across intense enemy fire. Canley ran through it, risking his life to carry several injured Marines back to safety. His company commander was wounded during the shootout, so Canley assumed command despite his own injuries. He reorganized the scattered men and personally moved through their ranks to advise and encourage them.

Listen to episode 2747 and discover more about U.S. Marine SMJ John L. Canley and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

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Episode 2746 – Medal of Honor tribute to Army Capt. Humbert Versace

Medal of Honor recipient Army Capt. Humbert Versace. , Vietnam Veteran  News, Mack Payne

Medal of Honor recipient Army Capt. Humbert Versace.

Army Capt. Humbert Versace , Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Army Capt. Humbert Versace’s brothers uncover his Medal of Honor plaque during an induction ceremony into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, July 9, 2002. President George W. Bush presented the award to Versace’s family at the White House one day earlier.

Episode 2746 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Army Capt. Humbert Versace and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Army Capt. Humbert Versace. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that Army Capt. Humbert Versace was the son of an Army colonel who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1959. He served in Korea before volunteering to go to Vietnam as an advisor.

Lange added this about him. In October 1963, Versace was accompanying a South Vietnamese military unit when it came under attack by Viet Cong enemies. He was seriously wounded in the battle, but he continued to fight until he was taken prisoner.

Since he could speak French and Vietnamese, Versace largely assumed command of the other men imprisoned with him. For nearly two years, he withstood exhaustive interrogations, torture and abuse without breaking. He even tried to escape four times.

Versace was eventually isolated, caged, shackled in irons and starved before he was executed on Sept. 26, 1965. His body was never recovered.

For his unyielding courage in the most dire of situations, Versace was nominated for the Medal of Honor in 1969, but he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star instead. It took until 2002 for that award to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Listen to episode 2746 and discover more about Army Capt. Humbert Versace  and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

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Episode 2745 – Medal of Honor tribute to Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr.

Medal of Honor recipient Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr., Vietnam Veteran News. Mack Payne

Medal of Honor recipient Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr.

Episode 2745 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr.and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that Retired Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr. could have had a prominent gymnastics career, since he competed in high school and trained for the Olympics in his hometown of Moline, Illinois. But after graduation in 1966, he decided to pursue something entirely different: service in the Army and a tour of duty in Vietnam, which earned him the Medal of Honor.

Lange added this about John Baker Jr. Only a few short months after he began his Army training, Baker was shipped off to Vietnam with the 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division.

A private first class at the time, 19-year-old Baker said he and his company went out in the jungles for weeks at a time on combat patrols. Often, since he was small guy – only 5 feet 2 inches tall weighing 105 pounds – he was tasked with crawling through Viet Cong tunnels filled with booby traps to try to lure the enemy out of their hiding spots.

Baker had been in Vietnam for only two months, when, on Nov. 5, 1966, he and his company were called to help rescue another unit that had been surrounded by Viet Cong. On the way there they were ambushed, and the man at the front of Baker’s unit was killed instantly.

Listen to episode 2745 and discover more about Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr. and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

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Episode 2744 – Medal of Honor tribute to Air Force COL James Fleming

Medal of Honor recipient then-Air Force Capt. James P. Fleming , Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Medal of Honor recipient then-Air Force Capt. James P. Fleming

Episode 2744 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Air Force COL James Fleming and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Air Force COL James Fleming ok. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that Helicopter pilots inserted troops and pulled them out of the jungles of Vietnam on a regular basis during the war. But Air Force Col. James P. Fleming’s refusal to leave anyone behind during an incident on Nov. 26, 1968, set him apart from the average pilot and earned him the Medal of Honor.

Lange added this about James Fleming, he was born in Sedalia, Missouri, at the end of World War II. His father had been a military pilot, so Fleming naturally grew fascinated with service and flying. He joined ROTC while he was at Washington State University and, upon graduation in 1966, he entered the Air Force to become a pilot, too.

Fleming was halfway through fixed-wing pilot training when a call went out for men to fly helicopters in Vietnam, so he volunteered. After more months of training, he was sent into combat.

“I was terribly excited to go,” Fleming said in an interview with the Veterans History Project. “I wanted to go fly in war.”

A few months into his tour, Fleming was a first lieutenant and the aircraft commander of a UH-1F Iroquois transport helicopter that was part of the 20th Special Operations Squadron based out of Nha Trang Air Base. Their mission: to support troops sent into volatile areas of Vietnam along the Cambodian border.

Listen to episode 2744 and discover more about Air Force COL James Fleming  and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

mack payne

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Episode 2743 – Medal of Honor tribute to Marine COL Donald Cook

Marine COL Donald Cook, Medal of Honor recipient, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

Marine COL Donald Cook, Medal of Honor recipient

USS Donald Cook, Vietnam Veteran News, Mack Payne

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook transits the Mediterranean Sea, July 6, 2018. Donald Cook was forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, on its seventh patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet

Episode 2743 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Marine COL Donald Cook and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Marine COL Donald Cook. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that Marine Corps Col. Donald Cook wasn’t in Vietnam long before he was captured, but the nearly three years he spent as a prisoner of war defined his legacy and earned him the Medal of Honor.

Lange added this about Donald Cook, he was born in Brooklyn, New York, in August 1934. He worked summers at a naval shipyard in college before graduating in 1956. Within a year, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Fluent in several languages, Cook worked in intelligence and interrogation for years before volunteering to go to Vietnam in December 1964.

Cook was in Vietnam for only 18 days when he was captured on Dec. 31, 1964. During the Battle of Binh Gia, he was shot and passed out from blood loss, so Viet Cong fighters took him prisoner. He and several other POWs were passed around to various primitive camps.

During nearly three years of captivity, Cook took responsibility for the men around him, despite the harsher treatment brought upon him. He shared his food and small amounts of medicine with other prisoners and took care of them when they were struggling, despite his own deteriorating health due to exposure, deprivation, malnutrition and disease. Even then, Cook refused to stray from the U.S. Military Code of Conduct, despite enemy efforts to break his spirit.

Listen to episode 2743 and discover more about Marine COL Donald Cook and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

mack payne

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Episode 2742 – Medal of Honor tribute to Air Force Col. Joe Jackson

Medal of Honor recipient Air Force Col. Joe Jackson, Vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Air Force Col. Joe Jackson, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

This is the only known reconnaissance photo ever to capture actions leading to a Medal of Honor. Joe Jackson’s C-123, then an Air Force lieutenant colonel, top center, prepares to evacuate the last three men from Kham Duc in Vietnam, May 12, 1968.

Episode 2742 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Air Force Col. Joe Jackson and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Air Force Col. Joe Jackson. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that Air Force Col. Joe Jackson earned the nation’s highest honor by rescuing three men in Vietnam in 1968, and he became a living example of military valor for 50 years after that. Unfortunately, he passed away Jan. 12 at age 95. But his story — and the famous photograph that goes with it — will live on in military pilot lore for decades to come.

Lange added this about Joe Jackson, he was born on March 14, 1923, and grew up in Newnan, Georgia. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps right out of high school in March 1941 because he said he’d always wanted to be an aircraft mechanic. He worked in that field until he happened to be on a flight where the plane caught fire. His knowledge of the plane’s mechanics helped land the aircraft, and that’s when he decided to become a pilot himself.

Jackson was commissioned as a pilot in April 1943. The rest of his World War II experience was spent training aircraft gunners, but by the end of the Korean War, he had flown more than 100 missions as a fighter pilot. As the 1950s progressed, he also became one of the first pilots of the U-2 spy planes.

He continued his military career into the 1960s and deployed to Vietnam as a lieutenant colonel.

Listen to episode 2742 and discover more about Air Force Col. Joe Jackson and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

mack payne

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Episode 2741 – Medal of Honor tribute to Army Spec. Daniel Fernandez

Medal of Honor recipient Army Spc. 4th Class Daniel Fernandez. , vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Medal of Honor recipient Army Spc. 4th Class Daniel Fernandez.

Episode 2741 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about Army Spec. Daniel Fernandez and his Congressional Medal of Honor award. The featured story comes from The U.S. Department of Defense website and was titled: Medal of Honor Monday: Army Spec. Daniel Fernandez. It was submitted by Katie Lange, the outstanding writer for DOD News.

Lange, in her story, reported that of the more than 260 service members who received the Medal of Honor for actions taken in Vietnam, not many volunteered for their tour of duty in Vietnam.

Army Spec. 4th Class Daniel Fernandez volunteered for his second stint there. It was a choice that led to his death, but the soldiers he saved will never forget his sacrifice.

Lange added this about Daniel Fernandez, he was born on June 30, 1944, and grew up on a farm with an orchard in Los Lunas, New Mexico, just south of Albuquerque. He was the oldest of four children and loved to ride horses.

Fernandez was part of Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, when he joined the Army in 1962, before the conflict in Vietnam intensified. But his family said he believed in the cause so much that he volunteered for a second tour of duty.

On Feb. 18, 1966, Fernandez was about eight months into that second tour when his patrol was ambushed by Viet Cong forces near Cu Chi, a suburb of Saigon. The area was famous for the underground tunnels the Viet Cong dug there and used as their headquarters.

During the ambush, Fernandez’s patrol was forced out of its location by intense enemy fire before they could evacuate a wounded soldier.

Listen to episode 2741 and discover more about Army Spec. Daniel Fernandez and his Congressional Medal of Honor award.

mack payne

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