Republic of Vietnam
April 1, 1970
Peter Lemon was 19 years old, exhausted, scared, and fighting for his life.
For more than three hours the battle raged at Fire Support Base Illingsworth, one of two small American outposts in Tay Ninh Province.
Wounded yet a third time in that final assault, and reduced to having to fend off the enemy in hand-to-hand combat, somehow the fearless Army Ranger survived the night.
Eventually, the Army prevailed upon the young man from Michigan to accept his Country's highest award. Ten days after his 21st birthday, President Nixon greeted him at the White House and proclaimed him a "hero".
One of Pete's fellow Medal of Honor recipients had once said, "It's easier to EARN the Medal than to WEAR it." Pete didn't even try. But while he shunned public recognition of his military heroism, he never forgot the men who had been with him on that night.
"Oh, I have it," Pete Replied.
"Where is it? Asked his friend.
"In a shoebox in my closet."
"You don't wear it?"
"It isn't mine," Pete quickly answered. "It belongs to Casey Waller, Nathan Mann, Brent Street, and the guys in the unit."
In the weeks that followed, Pete thought often of that conversation. From time to time, he would look at the Medal and his name engraved on its back side, then put it away in the realization that it belonged to other men.
Is he finally comfortable with it? Not really. The Medal he wears still belongs to other men in his own heart and mind.
It is FOR them that he accepts his role and accomplishes his newest mission ... hoping that when others see the five-pointed star hanging from its ribbon of blue around his neck that they will look beyond the Medal and see who and what it really stands for:
Casey Waller - Nathan Mann - Brent Street
and E Co (Recon), 2/8th Cav, 1st Cavalry Division
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