Specialist 4 Robert Patterson Bum-Rushed 5 Machine Gun Nests In Vietnam To Earn The Medal Of Honor

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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~Raul Felix

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What Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez Did To Earn The Medal of Honor

The door gunner, Specialist 4 Michael Craigs, had been shot several times and fell into Benavidez’s arms. “Oh my god, my mother and father,” were the 19-year-old’s last words.

As Benavidez comforted the distressed pilot, he asked him who was out there.

“It’s that black feller who’s on your team,” said the pilot, referring to Wright.

Without time to go get his rifle, Benavidez boarded a different returning helicopter armed only with his knife and a medical bag — he knew there would be weapons on the ground to use once he got there. All the knowledge he had accrued throughout his rough life and challenging military career kicked in. He descended into the pits of hell for six hours.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of my new piece at Coffee Or Die Magazine.

~Raul Felix

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Welcome To Arlington, Sergeant Gallegos

Rachel Larue

The light of the sun blinds me, my ears are ringing, and I’m lying on the ground. My eyes begin to focus, the ringing fades, and I see a hand reach out for me and I grasp it. It pulls me up to my feet.

“Welcome to Arlington, Sergeant Gallegos,” he says. He’s wearing an olive drab Army uniform with Master Sergeant rank on his sleeve.

“Uh…Arlington Master Sergeant?” I respond. I swivel my head about, noticing the rows upon rows of symmetrical white headstones.

“Yes, in case you haven’t figured it out—you’re dead,” he says sharply. “By the way, we don’t use rank anymore in the afterlife. I’m Sam,” he says, reaching out and shaking my hand.

“Tony,” I smile. “Dead? Huh? How did I die?”

“In the most glorious of all ways—combat,” he laughs.

“What? I don’t remember getting into a firefight recently.”

“What’s your last memory?”

“Well…I had just stepped off of a Stryker and walked a couple blocks toward our objective and…”

“BOOM!” he bellows. “I-E-fucking-D, motherfucker! And now you’re here with the rest of us KIAs.”

“Fucking A. But my body feels fine.” I begin to check myself out, looking for any injuries and notice that I’m still wearing my uniform and body armor.

“Well, this is the afterlife; of course your body is fine,” he laughs.

“Did any of my men get killed, too?”

“No, you’re the only one who bit it. Sherman and Tran got hurt, but not too bad. Don’t worry, they’re fine.”

“Damn…well at least there’s that,” I sigh.

“Now see over there?” Sam points to a funeral procession. “Your earthly body is right there…or what’s left of it, anyway. It ain’t a pretty sight.”

“That’s my funeral?” I see a group of people, some in black, others in Army Class-A uniforms in front of a casket with an American flag draped over it.

“Yes,” he responds.

I run toward it and see a bunch of familiar faces: my wife, two daughters, mama, friends, and a few men from my unit.

“My god, dear god…my love! My love! Sweet Pea and Cookie! Mama! Mama!” I try to grab ahold of my wife, but I pass through her. I attempt the same with my mama and pass through again. I fall to my knees and begin to cry. “They can’t see me, can they?”

Sam puts his hand on my shoulder. “Roger.”

Cookie, my youngest at age seven, sits on my mama’s lap, crying into her chest. My mama’s holding her close, releasing a storm of tears. My eleven-year-old, Sweet Pea, sits next to my wife, holding her hand tightly, head on her shoulder. My wife’s attempting to hold her composure, yet some tears overpower her and pour down her face.

“Ready, aim, fire,” orders a staff sergeant to the seven soldiers of the rifle party. The first volley is fired.

“Ready, aim, fire.”

“Ready, aim, fire.”

“Present arms,” every man in uniform salutes. “Taps” begins to play.

The casket party folds the flag into a triangle. One of the men walks it over to my family, takes a knee, and presents it to my wife.

“Ma’am, this flag is presented to you on behalf of a grateful nation for the honorable and faithful service displayed by your husband, Sergeant First Class Antonio Gallegos,” he says to her, then stands at attention and salutes her.

The cemetery workers finish shoveling dirt over my grave. My headstone looms.

Antonio Leonard
Gallegos
SFC
US Army
Apr 20 1977
May 4 2009
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Operation
Iraqi Freedom

My wife, mama, and daughters are alone. I stand right next to them, placing my hands on my loves’ shoulders. Even if I couldn’t feel the warmth of her skin nor she mine, I still felt connected to her. My wife hugs my headstone, caressing the engraving of my name, and giving it a kiss on top.

My dearest Carrie…the love of my life…I’m sorry…

My daughters are on their knees. “Papa, papa…we love you. We love you. Don’t go, don’t go.”

Sweet Pea and Cookie…you two are my light…I wish I didn’t have to…

My mama stands there, running her fingers through my daughters’ hair. “You were my angel, my most precious possession, my gift from God. I’ll miss you, mi niño.”

Mama…you taught me how to be a good man…I love you…

I watch them in silence, wishing I could feel their tender embrace once more. Wishing that I had more time with them. Wishing I wasn’t dead.

They begin to leave and I follow.

“Sorry Tony, but you can’t go with them,” Sam says gently.

“Like hell I can’t.” I begin to sprint after them, yet as fast as I move my feet, I make no progress. I’m running in place as they are getting further and further away from me. “Damn it! What is this?”

“You’re dead, Tony,” Sam reminds me. “You may no longer go among the living. That’s not your place anymore. This is the afterlife and I’m here to help you on this journey.”

I give up running, watching my kin until they disappear. Goodbye my life. I wipe the tears from my face, turn around, and face my fate. “So now what?”

“Follow me,” he says, and we begin walking deeper into Arlington through a forest of headstones.

“So you said, us KIAs…that means you were killed in action also?” I ask.

“Yeah.”

“What war?”

“Vietnam.”

“Holy shit. What was that like?”

“I couldn’t really tell you. I was shot in the forehead jumping out of a Huey on my first mission,” he says with a smirk.

“But you have Master Sergeant rank on. So you had to been in the Army a while.”

“Oh yeah, seventeen long years. I was also in the Korean War. Made it through a whole year’s deployment in that frozen hellhole without a scratch. Then did the whole peacetime Army thing. Those were some wild times, I’ll tell you what. The first couple of months I was in Vietnam, I was doing a damn staff job. So I didn’t leave the wire much. I was waiting for a First Sergeant slot. Then finally got one. I was supposed to take over a company in a few days. So I decided to shadow one of the company’s First Sergeants on a few missions so I knew what shit to expect. Right as we landed on a hot DZ…BAM…bullet right through my fucking skull. Pretty funny, huh?”

I shake my head. “What’s funny about it?”

“Surviving one long bloody suckfest unscathed, just to be snuffed out quickly in the next one. It’s almost poetic.”

“You can only press your luck so many times, I guess. God knows I have. This last one was…”—I pause and count in my head—“my eighth deployment. Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have reenlisted.”

“Well, you did.”

“Yeah, well, I did have a family to support. Plus, the goddamn economy sucks right now. Those reenlistment bonuses were insanely good.”

“Hey, bud, look at the bright side, at least they’ll get your life insurance money now,” Sam remarks.

“Yeah, that’ll hold them over for a good while. But if you want to know the truth, I just fucking loved the job. Even if it sucked at times, I just loved training my men and going to war.”

“So did I, Tony,” Sam pats me on the shoulder.

“Did you leave a family behind, too?”

“Yeah, an ex-wife and a son. She and I were divorced before I even went to Nam, yet she cried hysterically when she found out about my death. She’s still alive and kickin’. Good woman she is. Pretty as a sunset and sweet as honey. My damn foul temper while drinkin’ chased her away.”

“What about your son?”

“He’s a high school teacher somewhere in California. Has a nice family of his own. He was too young to really know who I was.”

“That’s rough, Sam.”

“That’s life and death, brother. The world will keep spinning without either of us. I’ve been dead longer than I was alive. Whatever impact we were meant to leave on the world is done and now we must be spectators to it all.”

Stone stairs leading up to the sky appear over the grass.

“This leads to heaven?”

“Nah…you wouldn’t want to go there right now anyways. Its kind of lame without your family. I’m taking you somewhere way cooler,” he winks.

“Where is that?”

“Valhalla. You ready?” He grins.

“Hell, yeah!”

~Raul Felix

Read: Oh Well, We’re Off To War Again
Read: Eager To Pop My Cherry On The Battlefield
Read: Four Years Of Hell: College V. The Army

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Oh Well, We’re Off To War Again

“Ones!” yells the private as he opens the door of my hooch.
It mildly annoys me.
It’s a pretty fucking good episode of Scrubs, damn it.
I quickly slip on and tie up the laces of my boots.
Oh well, we’re off to war again.

I zip up my top as I speed walk to the ready room,
I make a quick detour to grab a couple of Rip Its and Pop Tarts from the MWR.
From my cubby, I slip on my kit, Peltors, and MICH.
I test my NODS, grab my M4: clear it, pop in a magazine.
We’re off to war again.

The gunner and I begin our respective duties.
The gunner turns on the comms and loads the .50 cal,
I hop in the Stryker driver’s seat, fire up the engine,
I stand on the seat, looking out the hatch.
The TC approaches us after the hasty mission brief,
A steady flow of men, the tip of America’s spear soon follow.
Sixty-seven men, six Strykers, two Little Birds, and a military dog will descend Tonight on some poor souls’ door step.
Fuck yeah, we’re off to war again.

~Raul Felix

Read: Eager To Pop My Cherry On The Battlefield
Read: Jumping Out of Airplanes: How It’s Really Like
Read: The Military’s Parasite Problem

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3 Historical Examples Of The Federal Government Screwing Over The Troops

Anyone with a half a brain knows that politicians are self-indulgent ass clowns who don’t have the nation’s best interests in mind, but rather the best interests of themselves, their party, and their private-sector cronies. Doesn’t matter whether they’re Republican, Democrat, Whig, Democratic-Republicans, or Federalist; most of them have their fingers up their ass and let their party feuding take precedence over taking care of their men. It’s the common practice of politicians to go with the easy wrong over the hard right. As a result, the soldier on the ground and the veteran in the wheelchair suffer.

1. They refused to send much-needed resources to George Washington’s troops.

In 1781, the American Revolution had been raging for five years. The Continental Army under George Washington’s command had finally evolved from a haphazard militia to a professional, well-trained military force. Yet they were wasting away in the New Jersey winter. They had not been paid in a long time, were malnourished, and were freezing their balls off because they didn’t have the adequate cold-weather gear. Desperate to keep the ranks filled, they had also been coerced and bullied by their line officers to remain in the Army and reenlist under unfavorable terms after their initial enlistment was up.

George Washington had appealed to the Continental Congress on several occasions urging for the proper funds and supplies so he could adequately pay, feed, and outfit his troops. Yet, the fat, wig-wearing, self-centered politicians let Washington’s pleas go unheard. They were too busy involved in their own corrupt scandals and politicking to give a damn about the common foot soldier’s poor conditions.

The soldiers saw this as a broken promise by their nation. They were putting their life on the line for the Revolutionary cause, yet their government was not fulfilling the most basic part of the deal. They’d had enough. In what came to be known as the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny, with muskets in hand and artillery pieces in tow, virtually the entire Pennsylvania Line headed on a two-day march to Philadelphia to make the ungrateful Congress listen to their demands. They made it as far as Princeton.

Their commanding officer General Wayne caught up with them and negotiations began. The general heard their grievances and they had come to terms: The men who were detained beyond their enlistment or coerced into reenlistment were to be separated with their pay. The men who remained were to get their pay and clothing. The number of men in the Pennsylvania Line was cut in half from 2,400 to 1,150.

2. They used police and military actions on World War I vets.

After coming home from The Great War, American combat veterans realized they had gotten the raw end of the deal. While they were in the trenches of Europe getting shot at, shelled, and gassed, the men who had stayed back on the home front working in war industries had made about ten times as much money as they had. To make a fair readjustment, they lobbied Congress for what would be commonly known as the Bonus Act, which passed in 1924. Each veteran was issued a certificate for $1 for each day of domestic service and $1.25 for each day of overseas service. The catch was that the certificates wouldn’t mature until 1945.

Then, in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression, realizing that many of the fat-cat corporate gods had gotten special treatment from Congress because of their lobbying power, the soldiers decided to press Congress to pass a bill for the early redemption of the certificates to provide some relief from poverty many of them had been experiencing.

Forty-three thousand veterans and their families with little to no money in their pockets traveled from all over the nation to march on DC. The Bonus Army had been mobilized. They organized a well-run Hooverville built from the material salvaged from rubbish dumps. They would peacefully occupy the House of Representatives’ offices to have their voices heard. The strategy worked and the House passed the Wright Patman Bonus Bill. It was a small victory, but their biggest obstacle was just ahead of them: the Republican-run Senate under President Herbert Hoover.

They massed on the United States Capitol awaiting the news, chanting, “The Yanks are starving! The Yanks are starving!” so loudly that they could be heard in the Senate corridors as the bill was being debated. The Senate overwhelmingly struck it down with a 62-18 vote. The marchers were deeply disappointed but decided to remain in continued protest. A month later, with tensions running high, the 72nd Congress adjourned. The cowardly congressmen left the Capitol through the back doors and underground tunnels to avoid any confrontation with the Bonus Army. Now with this session of Congress over, Hoover wanted their poor, unemployed, homeless asses out of DC. He ordered their forceful eviction.

Police went into one of the half-demolished buildings that had been used for housing and began evicting the veterans and their families. Someone threw a brick at one of the police officers, which resulted in the police officers shooting their guns and leaving two veterans dead on the ground. With that bloodshed, it was time to call in the troops commanded by future World War II General Douglas MacArthur.

MacArthur sent over 200 cavalry, 200 infantry, and six tanks to disperse the protesters. The soldiers donned their gas masks and shot tear gas into the crowd. Fearing for their lives, the Bonus Army ran for safety. The soldiers went into the camps and forcefully removed those who occupied it and then set it ablaze. One reporter said, “The blaze was so big it lit up the whole sky. A nightmare come to life.”

3. Pandering to racial bigotry overrode their common sense.

Theodore Roosevelt is considered one of the greatest presidents in our nation’s history, and rightfully so. But even he made a severe mistake in his presidency by succumbing to the racial bigotry and pressure of his time.

In 1906, Brownsville, Texas was a small town with a little over 6,000 people. The community’s citizens were anxious over the fact that a regiment of Buffalo Soldiers had been stationed at nearby Fort Brown. “Buffalo Soldiers” was the name given to all-black units because the military at the time was segregated.

A shooting spree had occurred, leaving a white bartender dead and a Hispanic police officer with a destroyed arm. To the townsfolk, it was pretty obvious whose fault it was. Several people reported seeing some black soldiers leaving the scene of the shooting. Then, to further their conspiracy, they allegedly planted discharged ammunition of the same caliber the Buffalo Soldiers used in their rifles on the ground as evidence. Despite this effort to incriminate them, the soldiers’ all-white commanders insisted that all of their men had been in the barracks that night and had been accounted for at the time of the shooting.

Though there were many contradictions in the evidence and statements given, the Army Inspector General accepted the townsfolk’s statements. This developed into what has become known as the Brownsville Affair.

The soldiers were then pressured to name who fired the shot, but they said they knew nothing about the incident. As much the community wanted to, they could not tie the shootings to any one of the men. Yet on the advisement of the Inspector General to appease the piece-of-shit people of Brownsville, Roosevelt ordered that 167 of the men be given a dishonorable discharge for their “conspiracy of silence.” Among the ranks were men who were had served in the Spanish-American War, some with 20 years in service and only months away from receiving their retirement pensions, and six of whom had been Medal of Honor recipients. Congress later did its own investigation into the matter and upheld Roosevelt’s decision. Those men lost it all because their political leaders lacked the morale and intestinal fortitude to do the right thing. Instead they shoved their corrupt political cocks in their ass and called it a day.

~Raul Felix

You can read more of my writing at Thought Catalog.

Carrie Nation: The Temperance Leader With A Bad Temper

CarrieNation

Imagine yourself as a turn-of-the-20th-century working-class American male. After spending all week in appalling working conditions marked by long hours, low pay, and shitty treatment, the only light you have in your otherwise bleak existence is your Friday night at the saloon. You’re boozing and gambling away your meager paycheck with your equally browbeaten buddies trying to forget the utterly unsatisfying and endless turmoil that is your existence, but you’re thankful you made it through another week without having your arm ripped off at the ol’ mill. Suddenly, the door of the saloon bursts opens and in enters a hatchet-wielding, spectacle-wearing, middle-aged woman yelling, “Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard’s fate.” That was the 1900s equivalent of “You motherfuckers need Jesus!”

That menacing woman was Carrie Nation, a named both feared and mocked by drunken lowlifes of yore. Carrie Nation was a part of the temperance movement before being a part of the temperance movement was the fashionable thing for devout Christian women to do.

You sit there not sure what to do. You’ve read of this rampaging woman in the papers, but you never imagined she’d come to the place where you drink your misery away. She raises her hatchet and skillfully smashes several bottles of whiskey with one devastating swoop. Then she takes another swing and another. A few minutes later, every bottle of alcohol in the saloon lays shattered on the floor. Grown men stare stunned. She leaves the saloon and heads to another. She’s only begun.

Carrie Nation really fucking hated alcohol.

Born in 1846, she had a life filled with tragedy. Her mother died in an insane asylum. Her first husband was a drunk and became increasingly unreliable. He drank himself to death shortly after Carrie left him. She married again, only to have it end in divorce.

Realizing that marriage, love, and happiness probably wasn’t her thing, she devoted herself to God and the temperance movement. Carrie’s early strategies involved doing peaceful protests with hymns and japes at the bartender by greeting them with “Good morning, destroyer of men’s souls.” This plan yielded little results in stopping men whose only saving grace in life was alcohol.

Carrie knew she needed to step it up a notch if she wanted to get results. As a God-fearing woman, in 1900 she got on her knees and prayed to the Lord Almighty. She prayed with all her will and devotion. Back then, God wasn’t the flaky asshole he is now about answering people’s prayers, so he promptly gave Carrie a vision:

“Go to Kiowa [a town in Kansas]. I’ll stand by you.”

Since God always likes to keep shit vague, Carrie ran with it and took it as meaning: “Go to Kiowa and fuck some saloons up with rocks.”

And fuck saloons up with rocks she did. She walked into a bar in Kiowa with a bag full of rocks—or “smashers,” as she termed them—and valiantly threw them against the mirrors and bottles of the saloon. She was getting her revenge on the place where the serpent drink crushed the hopes of her early years. She repeated this action at two more bars. By the time she was finished with the third, a crowd had gathered cheering her on. When the sheriff arrived, Carrie displayed how much of a gangster she truly was—she dared him to arrest her. He didn’t.

Emboldened by her God-approved vandalism, she headed off to Wichita and attacked the most popular saloon in town. The Wichita police weren’t the pushovers that they were in Kiowa, and Carrie was arrested for defacing property. “I am defacing nothing. I am destroying,” she said as she was being arrested. Jail didn’t faze Carrie: “You put me in here a cub, but I will come out a roaring lion. I will make all hell howl.”

After getting out of jail, she adopted her trademark hatchet as her instrument of booze destruction. She headed off from one small town you’ve never heard of to another you’ve never heard of. She would be arrested time and again, each time scoffing at the law and paying the fines for her release. She even had the governor of Kansas plead with her to stop her attacks. “You are a woman. And a woman must know a woman’s place.” Carrie strutted out and called for a hatchetation.

Now, what the fuck is a hatchetation?

A hatchetation was when hundreds of women and a few men who really fucking hate alcohol would destroy over 100 saloons throughout Kansas. It was so effective that it forced state senators to actually do their jobs and enforce the laws already on the books regarding prohibition in Kansas.

Even back then, Americans were a fickle bunch and as quickly as Carrie Nation got things going, the movement faded away. Carrie didn’t give a fuck; she went solo on her crusades and kept many bartenders on alert until her death in 1911.

You’re with your buddies, stepping over the destruction that Carrie Nation left behind. You shake your head in bewilderment and look at the sign above the bar:

“All nations welcome, except Carrie.”

~Raul Felix

Read more of my articles at Thought Catalog.