The thing about a hero is - they never talk about the heroic things they've done. You might sit next to them in church for years and never know. Most of them balk at the term "hero" and yet, the dictionary defines a hero as someone distinguished by their exceptional courage, nobility and strength.
39 years ago, one of our own at Winton Rd., William Sizemore, was a part of an extraordinary group of men who displayed exceptional courage.
It was March 26, 1970 in Vietnam and they were part of the Alpha Troop or "A Troop". They had been awake for 2 days and had just suffered a horrible accidental ammunition explosion that killed several of their men when they heard the cries for help. An airborne unit, the Charlie Company, was surrounded by the Vietnamese in the dense jungle. The conditions made it impossible for a helicopter to get them out. Running out of ammunition the Charlie Company was sure to be overrun, killed or taken hostage.
The decision was made that Alpha Troop would volunteer a rescue attempt. And that they did. Amidst attack from the enemy they were able to load the wounded and evacuate Charlie Company. Because of this decision around 100 lives were saved.
To go in and make a rescue attempt like that is incredible. It is even more so considering what Alpha Troop had just gone through previous to the rescue. What happened next is also incredible.
Shortly after their heroic action, Alpha Troop joined in the invasion of Cambodia and their story was all but forgotten. One of the men from Alpha Troop was told that "no such battle happened". For 39 years these brave heroes have gone unrewarded and unrecognized. But no longer.
Next Tuesday, Oct. 20th the remaining members of Alpha Troop will travel to the White House to receive the highest honor bestowed upon a military unit - the Presidential Citation. Hopefully President Obama will be there to give the awared in person. For anybody who's like me and wants to watch - it will be televised on CNN and FOX around 11:45.
The Alpha Troop's former commander, John Poindexter has written a book about the events of that day called The Anonymous Battle.
You also can read more about this on The Alpha Troop web site, or see the NY Times article here, or read the account of one of the men of Charlie Company here. These sites are very worth your time to read.
Bill, we are rejoicing with you and your fellow soldiers as you finally receive the recognition you deserve. We are SO SO SO proud of you and grateful for your service to our country.
* Pictured above: From left, John Poindexter, Stanley Carter, Fred Pimental, William Sizemore, Ray R. Moreno and Angel Pagan.