Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

The word “hero” is too small to describe Tango Mike Mike

I’m not much of a flag waving guy. I prefer to wave the Constitution because that document is the most important in the history of the world. But today I’m going to wave a flag a little here because it’s Memorial Day and something needs to be said about heroes.

The word “hero” has been thrown around a lot these days. So much so that it is now applied to people doing their jobs for which they even get paid. And what I just said is not to diminish the work they do and to not say what they do is not important. But to call it heroic is another thing all together.

I just found out about a Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez. The word “hero” is not big enough to describe what he did. We need to use his example to define what true heroes are because to put people doing important work in the same class is insulting to the memories of men and women like Roy Benavidez.

Prior to his heroic efforts in Vietnam he was first sent there as an advisor and was seriously wounded by stepping on a landmine. The doctors told him he would never walk again and they were preparing to discharge him from the military. Benavidez wouldn’t have it. He secretly at night took it upon himself to rehabilitate his condition. He started by dragging himself across the floor of his hospital room to a nearby wall to prop himself up. It took him months but he was finally able to stand and after more than a year he actually walked out of the hospital. Did he go home? No. He went back to Vietnam by choice. But, what I just described above are not the heroics for which he received a Medal of Honor. That’s described below.

Three helicopters attempted extraction but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crew members and to assess aircraft damage.

Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team.

When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter.

Below is a short biography on Master Sergeant Benavidez.

Let the story of Roy Benavidez define the word hero and let’s not cheapen what he sacrificed just so others can feel good about themselves.