On a sunny day in October 1969, four American soldiers stood at attention on the east lawn of the White House in their Class A uniforms. Each one was going to be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon for their actions in Vietnam. Twenty-one-year-old Patterson, who had been promoted to sergeant after his tour in Vietnam, was annoyed that he couldn’t wear his jump boots. He was the only paratrooper of the bunch, and since the Army wanted them to be all dress-right-dress, he had to wear the standard low-quarter shoes. As the speaker read his citation detailing his acts of gallantry and intrepidity in the face of overwhelming odds against the North Vietnamese, Patterson stood bewildered — he didn’t have a single memory of his actions that day.
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