tv Medal of Honor Recipients CSPAN December 19, 2016 8:00pm-8:46pm EST
c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> tonight on c-span 3, it's american history tv in prime time. first we hear from three medal of honor recipient who served in the vietnam war and the war in afghanistan. then a discussion with two recipients of the silver star medal. of that, one of the original members of the u.s. army's 101st
airborne division talks about some of the major events during world war ii. later, two female officers talk about their experiences as trailblazers in the u.s. military. >> next, on american history tv, we hear from three medal of honor recipients from the vietnam war and the war in afghanistan. the medal of honor is the highest military award for valor during combat given by the president in the name of congress. this 40-minute talk is part after three-day conference hosted by the american veterans center. >> all right. let's get under way here. another highlight panel of our conference. if you've scent program, you know that's an understatement. to moderate this panel on the medal of honor, i'd like to welcome to the podium michael g. glad well, chief operating officers from the congressional medal of honor foundation.
mike? [ applause ] >> thank you. and it's indeed a pleasure to be with you this morning. and we thank you. we thank you for the decision that you have made at a very young age to serve our great country in uniform. it's an important decision. it's a critical decision. and it's a decision that will probably be one of the most important that you'll ever make in your life. and we need you. not only for the skills that you bring but for the leadership that's inside you. because we always have plenty of infantry men and pilots or public affairs officers like i was, and my wife was. we'll never have -- we'll never have a glut of leadership. it will always take that. so thank you for what you're
doing. in the essence of time, ill introduce your medal of honor resip gen recipients. but i won't go into a lot of detail about what they did. you can see their stories on-line at medalofhonor.com. i urge you to kek that out. i will say one thing about the three gentlemen sitting before you, that they no doubt felt fear in combat. but they chose courage when we absolutely needed them to do that, and satisfied the lives of hundreds of american soldiers. for a little bit about the medal of honor before i introduce them. the medal of honor was first signed into law by president lincoln in 1861.
it's all right. >> it's all right. you've actually never sounded better. the medal of honor was signed into law in 1861 by president lincoln. first medal presented in 1862. since then, 43 million americans, 43 million people have served in the military. men and women have served in the military since that first medal was presented. and only 3,496 people have received the medal of honor. today there are 76 living recipient of the medal. and we are blessed to have three of them here today to be able to speak with you. and i'll start with the introductions. my far left is retired sergeant first class mel vir morris, one of the owe ridgeal green berets. melvin, thank you for swroinijo
us. [ applause ]berets. melvin, thank you for joining us. [ applause ]of the owe ridgeal. melvin, thank you for joining us. [ applause ] and he is here today with his lovely wife, mary, who is in the front row. thank you, mary. stand up. next to melvin is colonel retired bruce crandall, army helicopter pilot and engineer. [ applause ] and of course, to my immediate left, sergeant ryan pitts. gentlemen, i have several questions and we can just talk about -- and they're all for everyone, so please, you know, jump in at any point. after you received your medal, could you have gone back home and lived out your life in relative obscurity. but you made commit tomt perpetuate the legacy of the medal and its values. courage and sacrifice,
integrity, citizenship and patriotism. why is that important to you? melvin, we'll start with you. >> that's fine. it's very important to me. first off, you don't win the medal of honor as recognition, and really you can't put yourself in a situation to get the medal of honor. if you do, there's something awfully wrong. so it's one award that takes quite a few witnesses. take a lot of scrutiny. a lot of detail investigation before you receive an award. personally, for me, i'm very, very proud to be able to accept a medal of honor.
i was a green berets on and off in my military career of 18 years. i've been in numerous combats. but i've never thought of receiving a medal of honor. earning it, however you want to put it, being recognized for it. but since i do have it now, i feel like it's part of me to go out and reach out to all the young cadets, mid shipman, aviators, the young school children. i'm very passionate about that. our country is the strongest military in the world. it's not broken. but it will be broken if we don't continue to have people like you. young men and women that will be officers in the future. you are tomorrow's leaders. [ applause ]
what i always tell everybody, my hat's off to you, because once you swear in the oath, once you put your boots on and once your boots are on the ground, it doesn't matter what field you're in. you're a hero as far as i'm concerned. because you took that step to honor your country and do your part. and to me that's very important. and i do the best i can to live up to the standard of the medal of honor, which is very, very high. and i feel obligated that i should go out and share my military history and i live the medal of honor everyday. that's part of our heritage. and that's where we will recognize our military for their achievements.
i can't explain the overwhelming feeling i have that this was just around my neck. and that means that i have to do the best i can to honor that tradition. honor the medal of honor. and as the old record says, i'm proud to be american. and proud that i served in the military. and i want to thank you. i can't say any more. [ applause ] >> i think those values transcend the individual recipient. they're embodied by everyone that's ever worn the uniform wears it currently and is going to wear the uniform. and you know, in most dayscasesh the medal of honor being awarded, usually the recipients been killed or others have been killed on that day and they embody those values more than
anyone else. and we're here and able to tell the story and i think that's what that responsibility comes back to for me. and the day that i was awarded, for which i was awarded, it was a team ef importafort. there were nine guys that didn't come home that day. and i'm here because of them. they embody what i inspire, i hope i can be half the men that they were. and the responsibility of sharing their story and those values accompany the award. >> well i'm the oldest up here,
i think. i received the award in 2007. it's the greatest honor i've ever had. the award is exemplified by the variance in the people who get it. because there is no common denominator for all of us. you can see he is young and handsome, and educated, pain in the butt. you see, for guys like me, it was very late in my life in 2007. my wingman got it in 2001 and joe marn received it on the 14th of november when the fighting took place. there were 301 people killed that week in the cav. and today we don't do that. we understand that you have to keep your men alive if you're commander. that's one of your responsibilities. i'm a real advocate of service. the problem we have is coming up
is that we're going to face again the demand to have the draft. and the draft was the worst thing that ever happened to the military because the local judge could tell a young man who was robbing gas stations and doing other nice things in his community, the choice of go into the army or go to jail. we took them. all we did was change where they went to jail. we had the largest stock aids we've ever had. if you hear a congressman talk about the draft, get a different congressman. because we should never do that again. people that earned this award have one thing in common. they understand that they did what they were supposed to do and that was a thing that we were trained to do. we would expect anyone who is in our position to respond in a like manner. having said that, i'll never jump on a hand grenade. i talked to young men that have
survived that or threw a hand grenade away. pitre lost his right hand, tloeitlo throwing a hand grenade away from a group and he said would he do it again, just throw it left-handed. we're proud of the 12 young people we got out of afghanistan. that wear the medal. because they feel the same way about it as we do. that goes right down from all of us. we know that this is for everyone, not for us. we know that when we wear it, we have to be -- our conduct has to reflect the pride in that. i have a good conduct medal i wear under my collar to remind me that that's a hell after lot harder to explain than the medal of honor for me. we have to -- if you meet medal
of honor recipients, with you will find that every one offes this feels the same way. this is for everyone who was m my unit and everyone that's not been on the battlefield. we got recognized but that doesn't mean that we were the only ones doing the things that had to be done. so when you see a medal of honor recipient, you will know he has been changed. we have only one woman and we will have more. the women helicopter pilots in the army today are embarrassing better than what i was. that's not saying much. anyhow, thank you to those going through the program. rotc, service academy possess. that's the finest education you'll ever get. particularly if you go to west point and be navy.
thank you. >> i want to make one comment. it's important. it always stays with me. marines are my heir. there's no greater love for your country that you should give your life for this country. so if you think about it, i mean, you set out there and some of you will do that. you give your lives for your country. that is the biggest honor ever. when you sacrifice your life for your country. and that sticks with me. and if i have to give mine, i would give it right away. because i do believe in what we have. the greatest country in the world. [ applause ]
>> thank you. my next question is, in the realization that we have a room full of crotc cadets here who will no doubt serve in the military very soon, what are your expectations for these cadets as future leaders in the military and for our country? your expectations for them. >> you know, i expect to deliver you what want. you want to be an office he, you live up to that. [ ringing ] cut off that phone. i've been telling a lot of cadets, when you start out, remember one thing. i'm an enlisted man. and 20, 30 years of service, young lieutenant and young officer, he should get to me as quick as he can.
because i have the experience and he's starting to learn. you graduate, you get your rank, but you don't know anything. but guess what? that old gunny, that chief master sergeant, sergeant first class, team sergeant, first sergeant, they got all the knowledge. and they will share it with you. and one other fact, i went through infantry, and i'm always infantry. one thing dilearn if the infantry, and they would tell us this, to be a squad leader p. you got to be able to gain the respect, the loyalty and willingness, we can't get no -- you can't lead. you're leaders. you're leaders. and you're at the level where you have to work the hardest. and i will say one thing to you,
you can be hard, but be fair. don't of let your anger or temper ruin somebody's career because you can't deal with a situation. and this is when you go through your senior listing. remember that. if you deal with your senior listing, you will go a long ways. after you get a rank like the colonel here, you know, you're pretty well got your feet on the side of the ground. and i guarantee you, if you ask him, he went to senior enlisted while he was colonel. you see? so use all your tools and you'll be successful. and if you do the right thing, i will follow you. okay? >> i think for me it's two basic principles when i look back guided me through my short career, shorter than these two gentleman. was first, just always place the mission first.
never forget that's why you're there. that's why you wear the uniform. to go and fight and win our nation's wars. and that's the number one priority. that's all encompassing. everything is included. whether that's training, taking action on the battlefield, whatever it is. and appreciating what your mission is, looking back on my career, i was within an infantry unit airborne. and we were kind of, you're not airborne infantry, you're nothing. that is wrong. at the time you never go in thinking you're second best or not good enough. you think you're the best. when i look back on it now is that every job is important. from the people turning the wrenches on the medevac helicopters because those birds don't fly if they're not working. and the people that put the fuel in there, and i'll tell you some of my favorite people, cooks, medics.
every job is important. so think about the role you play in that mission and how important it is. it's easy to get loss in it and feel like you're just a big kog in this war machine but what you do is important. there are other people counting on you. not just people in uniform but over 300 million americans back here expecting to you do your job everyday. other thing is that's first, mission first always. second, is always put those around you, those you serve with, before yourself. if you do that, they will be there for you. i saw that with my friends, the guys i served with so many times. it inspired us to do the things that we did, i think back on some of the leaders that we had. one of them was lieutenant john
boshum. we would have followed this guy to the end of the earth on a one-way trip. because we always knew he was looking out for us. dent care about his career. he didn't care about looking good. he cared about accomplishing the mission and doing everything within his power to take care of us. now you got to be realistic and understand that sometimes these two things will seem at odds, putting the mission first, sometimes the mission is -- it is going to risk people's lives. but that's the mission. you have to do everything within your power to try and bring those people home. and john embodied that. he riskis his life to save mine and a bunch of other men. he gave his life for us. he is still an inspiration to me for what it means to be a leader to embody those two principles. [ applause ] >> i'm looking at you.
>> okay. >> my thing for all of you is a little bit like melvin's. you lead from the front. we had commanders that would fly the helicopter up above and tell guys down below what to do. you should be in that lead aircraft and you don't have to transmit and you should leading your troops the same way. if you're not physically fit, get that way. because you're going to be embarrassing yourself when you get some nco that likes to run, as your first sergeant. my first first sergeant, i was the only officer in the company. i had 300 men in headquarters company of the fourth engineer battalion and i was an aviator. in those days, helicopters pilots were considered a pain. because they got paid and they were here. and those two things were not combatible for some commanders. but my first first sergeant told
me, we could do this two ways. i could return it and would he do the best co-for me and he was lying.ueturn it and would he do the best co-for me and he was lying.neturn it and would he do the best co-for me and he was lying.turn it and would he do the best co-for me and he was lying.urn it and would he do the best co-for me and he was lying.rn it and would he do the best co-for me and he was lying.n it and would he do the best co-for me and he was lying. it and would he do the best co-for me and he was lying. he didn't want me to run it. second thing is, i can run it and you can learn. i liked that one. an survived because of that. he taught me everyday about the standards that we had to have for the unit and for what we had to do. so i tried to immolate what he expected from me. those of you that are married, you will understand that immolating what they expect from you. my wife always expected things from me. and i tried to do that. she -- i had her for 54 years, so you can really have a good life in the military and still have a family. but we need to concentrate on
supporting our families. so if you are commander, make sure that your families are considered when you're doing this stuff you're doing. because don't overcommit your unit. that's what happens too oosten when have you a young officer in a leadership position that doesn't have solid ncos. so pay attention to your ncos. pay attention to your wife or your spouse. because that's a little different in today's world. we have the best military we've ever had. and you're going to be part of it. so set your standard accordingly and listen to your first sergeant. mine taught me a little bit about screwing up and moving up. and that's a good concept if you can stay out of trouble. i never was able to.
but you can see you never know what will come down the road. if you prepare for combat in afghanistan today, it may not be there, that may not be what you're going to be doing. pay attention to what happened in the past and if you could look down in the future, let working in your unit. don't try to be a big shot in a battalion when you're in a company. you'll find out that that will get you in a lot of trouble. but the interest is key to what we do. i came out of the ranks because an nco told me i was too screwed up. i might make corporal some day and he doesn't want that on his conscience but i would make a good lieutenant. that's enough of that. >> you did mention families. let's talk more about families and how that relates to our military careers. because we all know when the
military part is over we come home to that family that still needs you, still loves you and still needs you to be that father, husband, wife, brother, sister, whatever. and how important is that? and i know i'm very blessed with my family and i would like to introduce my wife also who is here today, retired colonel marsella thompson caldwell. >> for these young people who are about to enter the military, how important -- how wornt was your family and your career and what lessons did you learn that you would like about that that you would like to provide to them about taking care of the family while you're in the military? >> our problem was our draft.
right now you might not be thinking about it but you will be married and you will have families. that's what is great about the united states. we can be in the military and have families. families are what we fight for. what we stand strong for. to protect. i've been married for 55 years. my wife was with me when i was a young green berets. actually private first class. she is here today. it's been tough times. you've got to remember that. but you do whatever you can to make sure your family is on that side of the plate. and it is devastating on families when you leave in the middle of the night and don't come back for six months. so you always have to stay prepared. you got to remember, family says what we're all made up of.
and you know, when i was platoon sergeant, i asked my family, almost like my immediate family, that's my responsibility. so you remember that, too. that platoon and that's your family. that's your family. and you gain your loyalty. and you have a standing army right now. and we didn't have families but we need to be here right now. none of us. and so that's why we got a strong military to protect our families. there's no other reason. no other reason.
i only got to see how through the eyes or really observing those with families around me and you know, the family serve right alongside the service members. and i really think that their sacrifice answe sacrifices and burdens are probably greater than their own. i know what's going on everyday. i know what i'm doing. my family is safe back home in america or whatever base they're at. they are worried about what is going on with me and they don't want to just hear that hey, no news is good news. if you don't hear from me, you don't hear anything, everything is good. that's not a warm fuzzy. they are back home taking care of issues. and we aren't having to worry about. kid or bills or all those things and so, i mean, you got to have an appreciation for all of the people behind the people that
you lead that motivate them, support them, push them to do what they do. and i think it's important when you think about, you know, melvin mentioned it, your unit becomes your family. i'm closer to a lot of the guys in my unit still than i am it a lot of people in my family. they taught me that family isn't about blood, it is about carrying about other people more than you care about yourself. and you got to look at, you get that family. you will be -- it's special. because you're not born into it, you get to choose it. and you got it look at, it's not just those that you are under your command that you work with but your extended family as well. i think there's an importance of making sure that not only do you create strong cohesion with the people that you directly lead but foster an environment with their families and build a strong support network. when your unit leaves, those families are left behind to have to lean on one another. that's important.
not just when you're in uniform, right? but when you're out of uniform and it's important to maintain those bond of family that you develop in this service because it is equally as important after you leave. i still lean on my brothers and they lean on me. we wick up the phone and it just seems harder because you're separated by distance. i can't just, you know, let's just roll over because we're on bunk beds and talk to them on the bunk next to me. i got to pick up the phone and call someone in texas or orlando. you can feel very isolated but we are all still there for each other. those are some important things to keep in mind when you're leading soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines and coast guard. >> he made one comment there that i would like to expand on a little bit. command. don't use your command position to command.
leadership is not command. leadership is leading and having people to be willing to follow you. and until you develop that, you're not a leader. if you have too use command to lead, you have to get the hell out. you won't be effective and you'll be a pain in the butt to deal with for your superior answers senior nco. i will tell you that if you start using command as the only way of getting something done, you'll have your senior ncos kicking your butt all over the place and you won't even know it. so don't use command to be your key leadership way. it doesn't work. first thing when you get married, there's two words to learn. actually, three.
yes, dear. and yes, honey. because when you walk through that door, you're not the boss. you've got to remember, when you leave, to go to down range, the one that stays in the house is taking over and my wife's favorite expression to the boys, wait until your daddy gets home. and i had just gone to vietnam. it's going to be a long wait. but it was a joke. the standard joke in the family. my wife would tell those three boys, you wait until your daddy gets home. and when i got home, i was not a good father. i was not a good husband. i was in the hospital. and i thought she should come and see me everyday and she had to drive 75 miles one way. and finally one day she came in and i spent five months at
madigan. and she said, bruce i don't want you to take this the wrong way, but when you were in vietnam, you weren't a pain in the ass. right away i figured out, i must be doing something wrong. it was the expectation she should be coming to see me and she still had the same responsibilities that she had while i was in vietnam. for the family and for all of the things that she had to do. and i had become a load for her. and that i had to learn not to be. those are the things you learn by having them happen to you. so i hope none of you have to learn those personally. but the family is the most important part of most of our lives. but the military family, you're right. i still got buddies that come up to me and last year, 14th of november we were in washington, d.c. and through my wingman and
i through 14 1/2 hours a day and we got the medals. we rescued 71 people that lived. and they were there. the ones that could be. and their families. and i tell you, you want to see something awesome, is to know you had something to do with all those fwrand kids and you didn't have to pay for them. [ applause ] >> gentlemen, we have time for one more question. so we will close with this one. when is the most important lesson that you have learned in your military career that helped you get through your career and then in your life after the military. >> i don't even go by one thing. and it 's do what you love and love what you do. if you go into the military, love it. if you don't love it, you're not going to be too successful.
do what you love, love what you do. love what you do, do what you love. that's the only thing. and times will get hard, they will get rough. sometimes you hate yourself. but just tell yourself, i love what i'm doing. and you'll be successful. and i love the military. i've been retired a long time. but i still feel like i'm in the military. still feel like it. and so that's why i get out and i worked pretty hard because i love what i'm doing. i love what the military stands for. [ applause ] >> i think the most valuable lesson i've tried to carry in every part of my life is to look at everything as a team. and to realize that no one does anything on their own.
and i don't remember who said it, but it's amazing what you can accomplish -- you can accomplish anything if you don't care who get the credit. >> reagan. >> was it reagan? all right, thank you. ronald reagan said it. i carry that everywhere because i think back on every fight we were ever in, and there was never one fwguy, one person who carried the day. it was everybody doing their jobs. doing little things. you know, it's all the people that never get recognized that win wars and help us work towards these big accomplishments. and i'm just trying it carry, i bring it into my house. i look at that on the -- i'm a team with my wife. that there are no rules, we just got two things to accomplish. two little kids to chase around and not burn the house down. and i bring it to work. just always trying to be a team player.
how can i help accomplish things. that was something in the military, i was a forward observener an infantry unit. i was not just a foreign observer in an infantry unit. i was whatever i needed to be whether what is a humvee mechanic, medic on the spot, rifleman, whatever those things were. and be focused on that. i try to bring that into every aspect of my life. >> how many of you out there are under 25? oh, man. all right. in 20 years, many of you will be retired from the military or in 25 years, depending on what year you are. but you will be under 50, and you will have careers. so when you're in the military, use the education that you can
get in the military and training and schools. use them as much as you can. the more you develop yourself, the better you are as a leader. so get to education. get the training that's available and then use it when you get out. i spent three years at city manager in california. i liked combat better and i went to public works in mess ka, arizona. i spent 15 years there getting the pachy built there and other things that were important to me and to the -- to my community. so you'll be an asset to your unit by getting all the education and doing the thing that can make you a better officer, better leader. and in some cases, you will be proally be ncos, because today's army they are more important than ever. we had e7 was the top of the
rank when i was starting. now they have wi8s and 9s and ty are the finest leaders we've got. they have skill level and a second lieutenant next to an e8 or 9 had better understand his intelligence next to him. and use your life that way. but prepare for the future. get as much education as you can because that makes you a better leader. and i wish you all the luck in the world and i wish i was your age. i'd rather be even younger than you are. but that's not fwoing going to . congratulations to all of you. if you ever get into the position of a helicopter pilot, i'd be happy to copilot. unless we leave the ground, i'll be the pilot.
[ applause ] >> now, i want to say one thing before we close up. and you see it everywhere now in the military. you are all brothers and sisters. so leave no man behind. or no woman behind. you got to remember that. you got to remember that. you take care of each other. we don't leave our wounded. we bring them home. allow our families to say closure. so do whatever it takes, but don't leave your brother on the battlefield. never. that's it. [ applause ] >> thank you, again. and thank you, again for your decision to serve your country. we wish you the best of luck in
god speed in your careers and gentlemen, thank you for spending your valuable time with us today. and i know all of you are very busy and thank for the example that you are for all of us and for continuing to perpetuate the legacy and for the service following your military careers as well. thank you, and thanks for being with us. [ applause ] c-span's washington journal, live everyday, with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tuesday morning, usa today investigative reporter laura unger will discuss usa today's investigation into drinking water systems of small communities across the nation. which found people in many of these systems drinking untested or lead-tainted tap water.
author mark levinson talks about his book "an extraordinary time the end of the post war boom and return of the ordinary economy." his book argues that the growth and experience after world war ii were an be a rigs and we are now coming back to reality. watch washington journal, live 7:00 a.m. tuesday morning. join the discussion. this week on c-span, tuesday night at 8:00 jerry greenfield co-founder of ben and jerry's ice cream talks about creative business practices. >> actually the idea that we couldn't sell enough ice cream in the summer in vermont to stay in business, that forced us to look for other markets. >> wednesday night former vice president cheney and former defense secretary panetta on the defense department under president-elect donald trump. >> i think the challenges are very great and i think we have
unfortunately over the course of the last many years done serious damage to our capabilities. to be able to meet those threats. >> living in that period, there are a lot of flash point. and a new administration is going to have to look at that kind of world. and obviously define policy that we need in order to deal with that but then develop the defense policy to confront that kind of work. >> thursday at 8 will okay p.m. eastern, a look at career of vice president-elect mike pence. >> we have stood without apology for the sanctity of life, importance of marriage and freedom of religion. >> on friday night beginning at 8:00, farewell speech answers tributes to several outgoing senators including harry reid, barbara boxer, kelly ayotte and dan koets. this week in prime time on c-span.
>> next on american history tv we hear from two silver star resip yepts from the vietnam war and korean washington. silver star is the third highest military combat decoration that can be awarded it a member of the u.s. armed forces. this 45-minute talk is part after three-day conference. host of american veterans center. >> our next panel's titled the american valor legend and trailblazers. we're very fortunate to have as our moderator jonathan elias, journalist at abc 7, wjla tv in washington, d.c. and host of abc 7 absolutes a weekly segment spotlighting our military heros. he's also, although a civilian, instructor at u.s. army war college where he teaches colonels