tv Medal of Honor Recipients CSPAN November 15, 2014 9:29pm-10:09pm EST
people and what we believe in and what we stand for and what we fought for and what we were willing to die for. and when we see that, i say we cannot be indifferent to what is happening to other people around the world. we tend to dismiss it here. but we can't. and i think if the holocaust taught us anything it is we cannot be indifferent to these things because that's not the kind of people we are as americans. [applause] >> we wish twed opportunity to talk to a confederate or union soldier or world war i veteran about their experiences but they
are all gone. there are still world war ii veterans left, about 1.1 million. about 700 die every day. if you get the opportunity, go talk to one. it could be any veteran from anywhere. it could be these gentlemen, a grandfather or grandmother. just do it. just talk to them. and let them tell you what it was like. but it's such an honor to have you here and thank you for your participation today and good luck to all of you. [applause] >> also at the conference for ilitary veterans two honor recipients. they talk about their reasons for joining the military. this is about 40 minutes.
>> good morning. the medal of honor is awarded by the president of the united states in the name of the u.s. congress. the medal of honor was created in 1861 and several years later on march 25, 1863, the first edal of honor was presented to a private. since then only 6,000 have been awarded. 3,470 represents a very small fraction of the tens of millions of women who have served in
uniform. there are only 79 living recipients of the medal of honor and i'm pleased to be here with two of them. our first served for 27 years and treaved medal of honor for valor during the vietnam war. he served as deputy secretary assistant for the navy until 2009. he served as acting assistant secretary of the navy from january through april 2009. lease welcome medal of honor recipient barney bar numb. >> our second panelist serve in the army for 26 years. he was one of america's first soldiers to dawn the green beray authorized by president kennedy to be worn by the special forces. vietnam. two tours in
on september 17, 1969 his heroic actions in vet name earned him the highest military award. after more than 45 years, he finally received the recognition he deserved and was decorated with the medal of honor by president obama in march of this year. please welcome u.s. army sergeant first class melvin morris. [applause] >> i've prepared a few questions for our panelist but i'll give you plenty of time later on for your questions as well and we'll have a good discussion with our panelist. before we get started i encourage to you visit the medal of honor website where you can learn about all recipients and read their citations as well.
fur ever down in charles son, i encourage to you strift medal of honor museum in south carolina. so i'd like to start with you colonel. what were some let's talk about some of your role models early in your life growing up in connecticut. >> i think my role models first of all were mom and dad. we came from a small town in connecticut. we didn't have much but we had everything. dad worked three and four jobs and mom was a homemaker. then i think probably scouting made a big difference in my life. and i think much of what i learned in scouting carried on in my career as a marine and leadership aspects and first aid and living in the field. and i guess my coach. i played sports and that's when i learned it's not about you, it's about the team because
that's what it takes to get through life. and of course, i think my minister and on into the military various leaders in the marine corps. >> you were president of your high school classes. tell us about the day military recruiters came to your school and why you became a marine. >> on career day in high school, they had all the juniors and seniors in the auditorium. and they had all the recruiters come in. and the army recruiter got up and talked and there were whistles and calls and the air force got up and the navy got up and the students were giving them the old raspberry. and the marine got up and said there is nobody in this room i want in this room in my military you are all undies palestinianed. and he crude out the faculty and
picked up his gear and walked off stage. at the end of the auditorium i was one of 13 goice that stood at his table. he put his table back together and we talked and i joined the united states marine corps. >> there was a gunny sergeant who knewed the to be done. had a mission. was proud of who he represented. wasn't going to take any sha unanimous gans and i said i think i'd like to be like that guy. >> sergeant morris you were raised in oklahoma. tell us about your early life and your early role models when you were growing up there. >> my role model was an uncle of mine and he was a parra trooper in the triple nickel which was a
seggre gaited airborne unit at the. but i was so impressed just looking at him in uniform and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. >> and you wanted to do that. >> that was my inspiration to become a parra trooper. but my conditions about the same as his. i owe it all to my family and father. we hunted. we were economically depressed. in my early days i learned to hunt and fish. still do. ut i was also a boy scout. and explore scout. so i took those values that i learned with me into the military. now i joined the national guard in 1959. didn't see no recruiter but i had gotten my draft card and i didn't have to worry about that
because we had already made our mind up to go in the national guard because at the it was completely integrated and they were recruiting minorities. and so i joined the national guard and did my basic and my a.i.t. and i fell in love with the military. so up on completing my advanced individual training which was infantry i decided i wanted to go regular army and i asked could i go regular army and they said of course but we'll take a stripe from you. no problem. which they had to do anyhow. so i joined the regular army and volunteered to go airborne. and then after graduating from airborne school, i volunteered for the green beray. at the it was called special forces. and the only thing i heard was sneaky pete and i heard about what they do.
and i said i've done a lot of that. i spend all my time in the woods hunting. i didn't think they were going to pick me up and they did. and i went to green beray and i was 19 years old and i was private first class. i was barely big enough to open a parachute when i went to jump school. but i managed to stay there from 1961 until 1982. nd i was there when j.f.k. authorized the green ba ray october 1961. i still have that same one today. that's my passion is being a green beray. i will not get rid of it. people say you need to get rid of it. never, never, never, no. that's with me for life.
we all operate as a brotherhood. and how you are disciplined and what kind of values and moral character you have. the marines have their specific mission. green beret have their specific mission. so does the navy and air force. but we are all brothers. it's not competition between the service when it comes to combat. it's working together and getting the job done. of course they will send marines in to do thanges nobody else
will do massachusetts rhianna corp is designed to take on the tough stuff. -- marine corps is designed to take on the tough stuff. a lot of people look at the green beret as combat soldiers. no. we were teachers and advisors. hat's our primary mission. the same thing that is going on over in iraq right now, we have a special force there, the green berets and they are advising and training and directing and assisting. and that was our primary goal. >> thank you. >> colonel, you won the medal of honor for an action. you were nonl vietnam about 10
days and you served a second tour of duty. why did you go back the second time? >> i was in vietnam 10 days and was with the unit four days when i was in that ambush and ended up with the medal of honor. they really pissed me off you know. but i came home. d i became an aid to the assistant common in the marine corps. he said if you can last a year with me as an aid you can go any place in the world. the year was up and i said time for my orders and he said that's right. where do you want to go and i said vietnam. he said you got the medal of honor. medal of honor recipients don't go back. i said you told me i could go anywhere i wanted. there is a war going on. i'm a professional marine that's where i should be. he did what generals do.
and i went back. i became the battery commander of the same battery you was an bserver of the first time. [applause] >> it was only earlier this year you were decorated with the medal of honor, what was your reaction when you got the news? >> i didn't believe it. and i never really worried about it, never thought about it. and i had already received the nation's second highest decoration. i thought that was as far as it was going to go. and i just continued to march. i didn't worry about anything else. colonel a call from davis over here in the pentagon and he said the high government officials is going to speak to you tomorrow, you need to be standing by the phone.
and first thing that come to my mind it was men in black. i said i've done something wrong. i got a little nervous about it. so the next day the phone rang and the colonel got on the phone and he said this high government official will speak to you now. and my mind is flying. and it was president obama got on the phone and he said this is president obama. and i almost dropped to the floor. and he say i want to apologize to you for not receiving a medal of honor 44 years ago. you should have received it then. it was a short conversation and that was it. i still couldn't believe it. i told my wife. i said i'm going to call this colonel back. and i called him back the next y and i asked him was this a prank. he said look, if the president tell you this is official, it's
official. don't you ever call back up here no more. that was it. >> let's talk about military leadership for both of you. thinking back over the many years, who are the military leaders you most admire and why? >> who now? >> the military leaders in history that you most admire? > i had so many it is hard for me to distinguish but one that i most admired because he was a hard as and that was general illiams and the reason why i admire him because i had a bad experience with him. he was our commanding general and i'm an e-4 and i had to do extra duties on the weekend.
and i was thumbing home. i walked home 10 miles. i didn't have a car, i couldn't afford one. and he caught me thumbing and offered me $5 to take a cab and i refused his money and refused his ride and i got back to duty and he called me up to headquarters and he said don't you ever refuse anything from the general. you go get those buckets of wash and the brush and you start painting all these buildings. that's who i most admired because he meant what he meant. don't thumb. >> there are so many because in our glorious corp we are small. but i worked for people like a general two navy crosses who was my division commander who recommended me for the medal of
honor and i was an aid for and sent me back to vietnam. general lee davis, medal of honor recipient, my second tour was my division commander. i never served with poler but i was in his presence a number of times and i sat in awe of that man because of all he accomplished. and i think i'd like to add to this. y'all are wearing the uniform of our great country. you are not on active duty. some of you will be active duty. some of you will be congressman and senators and if you are, i hope you get something done. me of you will be doctors, teachers, policemen, c.e.o. of multibillion companies and some of you have the opportunity to wear the cloth of our nation and serve. and because you will be college
graduates you will be officers and charged with leadership and the young whipper snappers looking up to you will be looking up to you. fur going to be in the military, know yourself, be good at what you are doing and lead by example. and then you will be looked at some day. when that question is asked, one of your trooper's some day is going to say colonel so and so. general so and so, admiral so and so. and one of you admirals or generals are sitting here. that's what this is all about. that's what melvin and i are here today. we want to jump start you. start thinking down range. not yesterday. you can affect tomorrow. so you are building that strong foundation upon which you are oing to build the walls of life. that's what we're here to do today. >> thank you. [applause]
>> one final question. yesterday marks the 10th anniversary of the bat until iraq. we're talking about vietnam and we had some careen war and vet name veterans here. you just had some world war ii people. the reason we are at war is because there are people who do not believe in what you and i believe in and want to take this great country down. by god, we ain't going to let them do it. that's why we have a military to go any place anytime and take down these turkeys, win and come home. phantom fury ck was from 7 december 2004.
the bloodiest battle of the iraq war. 82 of the 12,000 troops that took part in that battle were demilled action. another 600 wounded. estimated 2,000 insurge gents killed. another 1200 captured. 4,000 fugitives in the city when the battle began. the focus of our marines and the sacrifices they made as we did in vietnam, the marines did their job and did it well. and the marines today and the soldiers today will be prepared forbid n the next god that it comes. [applause] >> we'll open up for questions. >> remember the only dumb question is the one you forget to ask and you think about it
going out the door. you can ask any question. >> i'll make a comment. this is for the cadets. if you can't follow, you can't lead. so you got to stet example for the people that you are going to command and you got to be able to get their willing oh beadens. you are going to have to treat your troops fairly and be understandable. you're going to have to be knowledgeable. i will tell you this. since i was in the military so long and infantry. they will see your weakness if you don't have what it takes. so it's best you prepare yourself properly. once you lose that ability to lead, you are no good. you are no good. remember that. you got to stay on top of your game. and develop all the knowledge and skills that you can possibly
gain. if you are doing the right proper job, your troops will see you as a leader, they will follow you willingly. they will be obedient and think about how can you tell a man to go in harm's way if you don't have their confidence. you must gain their confidence. and so it's hard i know. you got to keep the high standards, high moral values and you got to care for your people. i want to pass that on to you. >> thank you. >> my question is for the colonel and i'd like to ask the olonel about how his battery reacted once he went back to vietnam. >> i had a 105 artillery battery. of course the troops were in
awe. and i got them together and i said ok guys i earned the medal of honor the first time. i'm here as a captain now. we have a mission. i'm your leader. i'm going to give the orderers, you execute them. i'm going to tell you you are going to have visitors come to this battery because of this. not because of captain. and believe me, you are going to get sick of it and they all thought that was pretty funny. they had to keep the area policed up and all because they never knew when the general was going to stop in or a movie star or football fan. but on into the battle they learned real quick i stood up for them. and i think the day i turned the battle is the chief of staff of the marine corps was visiting a fire base. and the order was the uniform will be bush hats.
i had been trying to get bush hats and green t-shirts under utility uniform for two months. trying to get them. they wouldn't give them to me. the infantry had them, artillery didn't. so i fall out and-in a helmet nd an old black t-shirt. and the colonel who was the commander went on to be commander of the marine corps pulled me aside and said the uniform is bush hats and green t-shirts. i said i've been trying to get them for my troops for three months. he says well we set up a bush hat and green t-shirt for you to wear today. i said unless all my troops have them i ain't wearing them. and the word got out. the skipper is taking care of us. >> [applause]
>> this question is for both gentlemen. particularly the colonel. last night we heard the rifting story of sergeant workman and after wards somebody asked him a question which is a question i'd like to ask you gentleman and it was about fear. his story is as unbelievable as both of your stories. being a marine he was uncomfortable with admitting if he did have fear. i would ask it's not only the question of fear but other emotions. when you, especially as an officer in leading men, how do you deal -- how did you deal ith if you had fear? how did you overcome it, not only fear but another emotion is sadness, maybe anxiety especially in losing your other men in your unit?
>> that's a great question because it's something for y'all to think about. war is horrifying and not glorifying. i want you all to realize that. i know workman. he was shot up pretty bad. there is a young staff sergeant at the time that really grabbed ahold of his boot straps and got on with life and he's done very well. and he's fought ptsd and is helping others with ptsd. fear. i got to tell you. i'm coming out of the mountains that day. fourth day into the operation and we got ambushed. first time i had ever been shot at. i hit the deck. very prudent thing to do. when i looked up all the marines were looking at me what are we going to do. was i scared?
damn right i was scared. scared? e troops damn right they were scared. that was emotion. but at that point i went into action as an officer leader of marines. i started doing what needed to be done. the thing is with fear is how you control that fear. you got to control it. you're going to have it. you got to control it so it doesn't interfere with you making the right decision at the right time for the right reasons. it doesn't prevent you from mission accomplishment, giving the right orders to the troops to take out the enemy. if i didn't come out from underneath that helmet and stand up and start giving orders, those troops, that fear would have consumed them. all i had to do was kick them in the butt and put rains on them and guide them. there is no fury unleashed like a company whose commander had
been killed. i had to jump start them. was i scared? you bet. but my training enabled me to control that fear and that is the most important part. sadness, i tell you it wasn't until the end of the battle that i broke down. when the gunny came to me with the dog tags of those who had been killed and we had a count for everybody, i went to pieces in private with the gunny. not in front of anyone. we're human beings. we have emotions. just got to know how to control them. >> you have to channel your fear and you can turn your fear into a useful tool. you just got to learn how to deal with it. i'm a little different than him. he said scared. i don't use the word scared because when you are scared you
can't do nothing. he hit the deck. that was scared. but fear -- > it was common sense. advisor company myself and if i was afraid hand a lot of feerks i couldn't do my job because they were looking for me to lead and make all the right decisions. anytime you are leading troops, they are watching you and you got to make the right calls. you make bad judgment calls, you will cause people to lose their lives. , i guess it's something i never thought about because your adren civilian rushing and giving you the extra strength channeling you to do things and it takes over.
i guess depending depending on the situation, is whether you are fearful or scared. i was fearful all the time. fear makes you do the right thing. you heard the term scared to death. get scared people where they cannot do anything. fear you can control. >> i think you know what we are both saying. the other concern, rather than fear, i had, that when i was command that i would make the right decisions and get the job done and get fewer marines hurt or injured. it is pretty tough to make a decision, when i tell you four to take out that machine gun and you get mowed down and i turned to the next four, and i say, you get them. we have to take out that machine
gun or we are all going to go. fears, scares, concerns. it is semantics. the whole thing is emotions you have to control. to this. say go you say, follow me. [applause] i had a brief question for both gentlemen. the medal ofring honor me to you, your family, and to the menu fought side-by-side with? , humility. there is no greater pride to me than anything in the world. to where the medal of honor, to receive it, it changes your life. what you used to be, you are not anymore.
you are a different person. you have to expect your life is going to be completely changed, as mine have. you are a national treasure when you receive the medal of honor or a high decoration. people are watching you. they are looking at you. you are setting an example for the rest of the people. it.s an honor to where you have to walk a straight line. you have got to walk a straight line. if you warn inspiration to a younger generation -- i was telling someone, we left for birmingham with a lot of students. a lot of students don't even know what the medal of honor is, what it represents. please that knowledge, give them a little push and a little education. if this nation does not honor its heroes, we're doomed. >> is a great honor.
the secretary of the navy was putting it around my neck and i was looking at my mom and dad with tears and i made them proud. to me, that was the highest moment because i made them proud. 5'10" through -- i put them through hell. my mother had worn out three pairs of stockings on the kneeler from praying. i wore this my entire time. those great marines and theomenal corpsman i saw on field of battle. i never used it for my own benefit. i never used it to get my orders change or get a job. i would be naïve to believe that this did not help me with outside because some general thought i wanted the medal of honor. some general quantity to his aide.
because barney barnum has the medal of honor. than, majorst cap barnum. it is barnum with a medal. people are looking for. i had a recruiting training italian. in two crew years, i trained 12,000 -- i had a recruiting training batalian. in two years, i trained civilians. i was there because cigars with seller. they respectively. that is awesome. the troops look up to. as general chapman says, marines do things that they are supposed to do and don't do things that they are not supposed to do. i did what i was supposed to be
was leading by example. [applause] this is for both of you. you have addressed this to a certain extent. what effect the upbringing by your parents, your church, hunting, fishing growing up, how much help you become what you became? --dictate in the center it gave me a moral center. there has been a change in my life because of the medal of honor. it is the way you live. the hardship that i had in my youth, that also helps you to do things.
time eatingt of rabbit and squirrel, right? i learned to hunt when i was a small kid because it was necessary. i have the foresight just to do the right thing. helped mel, it develop the character i needed to go through life and i still use the same tools for that. >> i concur. let me segue the answer to this into my closing remark. , my scoutmaster, my priests, my coaches, they helped me build the foundation of life. upon that foundation, i have been building walls.
college, marine corps career. now i my grandpa and putting a roof of the house. you put the roof on the house and the walls would fall down if i did not have a strong foundation, ok? you all are climbing a ladder of life. because you are into college, you're up on about rung five or six. i encourage you and charge you to set your goals high, way high , and always reach out to get those goals as you continue to climb that ladder of life. never say it is too hard. never say, i can't. wordt's sake, take the serious out of your vocabulary. there is not anything you can't accomplish if you put your mind to it. there is no free lunch out there. you have got to work for what you get. in the greatest country of the
world, if you work hard, you will get it. if you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly bear. think about those things that we said. we are sharing them with you because we experienced it. we want you to have a great life, living in the greatest country in the world. we have had a great life. have there been challenges? hell, yeah. but look at us. [laughter] [applause] >> i want to make money more comment. an example about leadership. after i received the medal of honor, my radio operator from cambodia found me after 45 years. my interpreter.