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The Military View Column: Heroism on the Battlefield

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“The Military View” column, by US Army Lt. Col. (ret.) Jerry Hogan. Many aspects of the military are confusing to people. Just the appearance of a person in uniform and what all of those “things” they have on their chest mean, is enough to make people wonder. They hear things about the military and sort of know what it means, but like so many other subjects today, they really don’t.

Take the example of “military medals.” People have heard of the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star, but they really don’t know what they mean nor do they understand what it takes to be awarded one of these decorations for extreme bravery on the battlefield.

Michael Kuklenski of Rowlett, Texas was awarded the Silver Star while he was in the service. At the time he was a Hospital Corpsman, US Navy, supporting a platoon of Marines in South Vietnam. His award is an example of what it takes to earn that Silver Star. Read his story and imagine yourself in his situation late at night in the jungles of Vietnam.

“Late on the night of 29 May, 1969, Petty Officer Kuklenski’s platoon was occupying an ambush site along a trail in Quang Nam Province, 500 meters from the company command post. Suddenly an estimated North Vietnamese Army Company (about 100 men) utilizing rocket-propelled grenades, small arms, and automatic weapons launched a determined attack from three sides against the outnumbered (100 versus 30) Marines, seriously wounding Kuklenski in both arms and legs. Ignoring his painful injuries, he fearlessly crawled across the fire-swept terrain to reach wounded Marines and administer first aid. Undaunted by the hostile rounds impacting nearby, he assisted in moving the casualties to a covered position. As he treated the men, he collected their vitally needed ammunition and passed it along to those still fighting. During the fire fight, which lasted more than thirty minutes before a relief force arrived to reinforce the beleaguered Marines, Petty Officer Kuklenski, oblivious to the pain of his wounds, refused treatment and resolutely continued to provide medical care to the numerous other casualties. As the reinforcements arrived, he assisted in moving the wounded to the landing zone before he accepted medical aid for himself and was evacuated. His superior professionalism and heroic actions inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in saving the lives of several Marines.”

Of the thirty Marines in Kuklenski’s platoon, four were killed and eighteen were wounded during this engagement. He was hit in six places, couldn’t walk and had to crawl to treat the wounded, but never stopped. This is the type of heroism that is needed to be awarded a Silver Star.

So the next time you hear that someone has been awarded the “Silver Star,” please tell them how proud you are of what they have done. This story is just one more example of what our service men and women have gone through in the past and what they are currently experiencing as they fight in this International War on Terrorism our country is so involved with.

Jerry Hogan is a retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel who lives in Heath, Texas. He can be reached at jerryhogan@sbcglobal.net or 214-394-4033.

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1 Response for “The Military View Column: Heroism on the Battlefield”

  1. TetVet68 says:

    Remember Pearl Harbor — Keep America Alert!

    America’s oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 101st year is former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, U. S. Navy (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, “The Day of Infamy”, Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

    Visit my photo album tribute:

    http://news.webshots.com/album/141695570BONFYl

    San Diego, California

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