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tv   Arlington Cemetery Wreath- Laying Ceremony  CSPAN  November 11, 2014 4:15pm-5:16pm EST

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paralyzed veterans of america. max well colon, commander jewish veterans of the u.s.a. john stroud, command for the chief, veterans of foreign wars of the united states. james pigeon nabble first vice commander amvets. mark cornell, national president, blinded veterans association. h. gene overstreet, commander noncommissioned officers association. william bryant, national vice commander, the american legion. patrick little, empowering veterans to lead high quality lives with respect and dignity. they're represented today by their national commander. ladies and gentlemen please elcome ron hope.
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applause -- plus applause -- [applause] >> good morning, america. ladies and gentlemen, families, friends, and most of all my fellow veterans. i'm privileged and honored to be here on the hallowed grounds of this beautiful memorial to speak with you today was i proudly serve aid among the ranks of many serving today. like many of you, i wore the uniform of my country proudly and served a cause greater than myself. the defense of our nation's and our -- of our nation and our freedoms we value so much. it's a special bond all veterans share and it's a privilege to share that bond with you on veterans day weekend. today is special to us. when the country calls, my brothers and sisters and i responded by say, send me. on veterans day we all think
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about our brothers and sisters, those we served beside, those we led, those with looked up to, and those we lost. for us, veterans day could never be just another day of the year. military and veteran families are unique in this way. when a wife or husband, son or daughter raises his or her hand and says, send me, there's a great deal of sacrifice involved that most americans can't begin to understand. our men and women in uniform miss holidays, birthdays and other milestones other families take for granted because service members are often called away on duty. we're rapidly approaching the holiday season. military families often cannot invest the emotional capital of enjoying this time of year that is for most filled with joy, being surrounded by loved ones.
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it happens all too often in military careers, sometimes the rug gets pulled out from under you when least expected orders drosm that, as many of you know, is like a hard kick in the gut. it's no wonder that only one-half of one percent choose to serve today, but serve they do and they, in my humble opinion are among our nation's finest and bravest because they raise their hands and say send me, i will go. when our country calls. i'm also proud to be part of a very special group, a group of people who left behind part of themselves while serving our country. disabled veterans, whether they're injury is visible or not, reminds us all of the phrase freedom isn't free, it's more than just a cliche tavepls daily truth we all live with. that's why i'm proud to be part of the d.a.v. disabled american veterans.
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we know our heroes want to live fulfilling live lives with respect and digny. they don't ask for much and that makes it all the more important to keep our promise to our veterans who served. d.a.v. fights to make sure those promises are met and i urge you to get involve. let's briefly examine what veterans day means to those who said, send me. let me share three words with you. has anyone ever heard of we the people? america's sons and daughters took an oath, put on american uniforms and have sworn to uphold and defend freedom in dangerous and desolate places. i'm very proud, as all veterans should be, when i remind myself that i'm part of a special group who committed to defend the ideas of our forebears.
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the concept of hard-won freedom and liberty outlined in our constitution gave birth to what was a profound and radical concept way back in 1789. a government that was responsible to the people who elected it. what about those words, duty, honor, and country? general macarthur said those words, reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, and what you will be. they are your rallying points to build courage when courage seems to fail. to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith. and do to the create hope when hope becomes forlorn. because of the words "we the people" mean something to all american the words duty, honor, and country carry profound meaning to military members and veterans. committing to serve one's country and community is the single most important undertaking one person can make. i was and still am proud of my
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military service, but knowing i still javo -- advocate for the american veteran makes me prouder still. our veterans are part of america's greatest treasure. in my mind, they are the bravest, finest, and ensuring that we can and always will be a nation comprised of we the people. thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you today and remember that for d.a.v., every day is veterans day. [applause] >> thank you, mr. hope. please welcome the honorable robert mcdonald, secretary of veterans affairs. [applause] >> vice president biden, medal honor recipient brian
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thacker, secretary hagel, secretary perez, secretary castro, and members of your family, senator hirono, senator king, senator cantwell, minority leader pelosi, former secretary veterans affairs jim pique, secretary james, chairman dempsey, general dunford, admiral grinnard, and your spouses, ron hope, disabled american veterans our co-hosts for this year's celebration, and other representatives of veterans service organizations, dr. and mrs. summers, thank you for your advocacy on behalf of veterans and god bless the memory of your son daniel. fellow veterans, members of our armed forces, v.a. colleagues, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. good morning, everyone. what a great day for honoring veterans.
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for decades, americans have set aside this hour of this day of this month to honor those who have served this country in uniform. in times of both peace and war. it's fitting that veterans day comes so close to thanksgiving because veterans day is the day to give thanks to and ask the almighty's blessings on those who serve and have served the cause of peace. it's also a day of sacred remembrance and it's a day of both prayers and promises. we pray and promise that those who have served and are still serving will never be forgotten. that returning warriors will not bear their wounds alone. that their families will receive help and n facing uncertain futures, and that we as a grateful nation will embrace and care for survivors of those who do not return. this year, all of us at v.a.
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arrive at today's ceremony of traveling along what we call our road to veterans day. we stepped off this journey more than 90 days ago and the road was built on the foundation of both v.a.'s mission and our immediate objective, which is to better serve and care for those who have borne the battle and for their families and survivors. we set three goals for ourselves as we began to move forward. the first was rebuilding trust with veterans and stake holders. second, improving service delivery, focusing on veteran outcomes. third, setting v.a. on a course for long-term excellence and reform. we want veterans to know that they do not strive alone. the vision of our president, our vice president, the leader sipe and support of the congress, the concerted efforts of our veterans service organization, the good people of v.a. and the american people are all required to best serve veterans.
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at v.a., we are reorganizing for success in thevert, fleaps largest restructuring in the history of the department. we call that reorganization and our customer experience solution my v.a. part of our road to veterans day strategy. it's called my v.a. because we want veterans to view us as an organization that belongs to them prorkviding quality care in ways they need and want to be served. my v.a. will entail combining functions, simplifying operations, improving processes, leveraging technology, enhancing efficiency, increasing productivity, and effectively implementing the veteran's access choice and accountability act, a 360-degree effort to provide veterans with a seamless, integrated and responsive v.a., regardless of how they come taos.
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all this is to say that v.a. must regain and retain a laser-like focus on veterans from the 90-year-old who fought across omaha beach to the 19 yeermed who faced the determined foe -- to the 19-year-old who faced the determined foe in afghanistan. our goal is simple. to provide quality, timely care and benefits to all generations of veterans. our special guest today fully shares president obama's commitment to america's veterans. he and his wife, a tremendous supporter of veterans and service members in her own right have seen a son off to war and felt the special pride of having a child who shares both the privilege and the responsibility of wartime service to our great nation. ladies and gentlemen, i am deeply honored both professionally and personally to present to you a great advocate
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for our veteran the vice president of the united states, joe biden. [applause] >> thank you very much, mr. secretary. thank you. thank you. mr. secretary, thank you very much. in the short time you have been in your position, people are beginning to see significant changes. you believe, as i do, that we only have one truly sacred obligation. as a nation, we have a lot of obligations, to the young, to poor.d, to all, the but there's no obligation that's truly sacred other than the commitment to our veterans. and you carry that with you from your days at west point to today. we appreciate it.
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to all the distinguished guest here, let me say, particularly to the gold star families, let me say how much i appreciate the opportunity and privilege of being able to speak here today. it's one of the great privileges a president or vice president has, to be able to literally speak on this sacred ground. it's the second occasion i've had in my tenure as vice president. it's a beautiful, beautiful awe dumb tai -- autumn day. the sun is shine, the skies are clear, the temperature is perfect. nothing like the scorching heat, the bitter cold and intense storms that confronted many of you here today and our troops through every conflict in every age. today, surge is -- today's sunshine is nothing like the
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scorching heat our veterans endured while battling across the sun-baked coral islands in the pacific and in some cases going days without water. nothing like the hardships faced by a generation of americans who waded through the rice paddies in vietnam. nothing compared to the 115-degree heat in fallujah as a young warrior climbed into an mrap to show me how it saved his life. nothing compared to what our young men fought through in 25 below zero degree temperatures in the north korean mountain, pen down by heavy enemy fire, on the frozen ground, 60 years ago. and nothing compared to the snow and cold that hampered our forces in the argon forest 66 years ago. one of my favorite lines is from a poem, a play, a book by john
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stein beck. "east of eden." where cyrus trask describes to his son adam what it means to be a soldier. here's what it says. he says to his son a soldier is the most holy of all humans because he is the most tested. a soldier must coldly learn to put himself in the way of losing his own life without going mad. if you can bring yourself to face not shadows but real death, described and recognizable, by then you need never be afraid again. you are, the veterans of
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america, the most trusted among us, and the most tested of all americans. collectively, you represent generations of soldier, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guard who have served and sacrificed for all of us. you are not only the heart and soul, but you are the very spine of this nation. nd as a nation, we pause today to thank more than 23 million surviving veterans who have so bravely and faithfully protected our freedom. you gave and they gave. nd you deserve our thanks. we stand here today, committed to show our respect, honor, and to recognize our responsibility
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to care for all our veterans and for those who continue in harm's way as i speak to you today. since 9/11, 3.5 million women and men have joined the military . with the near certainry ty of knowing that they would be deployed -- near certainty of knowing that they would be deployed, and they have, over 2.6 million of this generation have been deployed to iraq and afghanistan. some -- some of you have been deployed multiple times to both places. and more than half of you have returned to civilian life with the honored title of veteran. the 9/11 generation took on a responsibility that extended far
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beyond base or battlefield. they were prepared to follow osama bin laden to the gates of he will -- to the gates of health and they did. -- of hell and they did. and they continue as committed. never before has america asked so much over such a sustained period of all volunteer force. and like so many generations before them, this generation of 9/11 warriors has paid an incredible price. every day for the past six years, i asked my staff early in the morning to contact the department of defense, to get a detailed report on the number of troops deployed, the number wounded, and the number killed. not a general number. the exact number every day.
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because for every one of those warriors, there's an entire family, an extended family, back america that has bled or is bleeding. s of this morning, u.s. troops died in iraq and afghanistan, 6,703. troops wounded in iraq or fghanistan, 5,168. troops still deployed, combat new york afghanistan, 19,650. security assistance in iraq, 1,400. like some of you, i've seen the incredible sacrifices they have made and continue to make. it's been my honor over the last
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two decades to visit our troops in the field from bosnia to kosovo from iraq to afghanistan, aslamabad. h to i've never once been failed to be impressed by the grit, the resolve, the patriotism of these young women and men. and every time -- and i've been accompanied by some of the time behind me -- every i've been in the field with them i find myself thinking, if only, if only everyone in america could see what i'm seeing. taste what i'm tasting. understand what these warriors are doing.
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and no one knows better than this audience that it's not just the veterans that's been asked to sacrifice and serve. it's his or her family. his mother or father, children, especially the husbands and wives. the english poet john milton once wrote, they also serve who only stand and wait. they also serve who only stand nd wait. when our son bo a major in the delaware national guard, was deployed to iraq for a year, my wife, who is a professor, would leave early for school, i'd get up and walk into the little kitchen in the vice president's home and without fail i'd see her standing over the sink with a cup of coffee in her hand,
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mouthing a prayer that the wife of the adjew tant general of the national guard gave her. you've all done that you spouses you moms you dads, you children. when they're deployed. there wasn't three hours that went by that they didn't cross your mind. you all know what it's like. and we owe you. we owe you as much as we owe your sons and daughters you husbands and wives. -- and daughters, your hises and wives. my jill points out that fewer than 1% of america's population serves in uniform but over 99% of americans owe that 1% so much more than we can ever repay. it's my firm belief that we do owe them.
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[applause] we have an obligation to care for and equip those who we send to war, and care for them and their families when they come home. as i said earlier, it's the only sake rhett obligation a government has. and we're honor bound to keep it. you're absolutely remarkable, you veterans. jill and i have visited wounded veterans in hospitals around the world, multiple times from germany, brooke army medical center, walter reed and so many other places. we spend christmas day at reed all day. the reason i mention that is you've had the experience i have had. walking into the room of a wounded warrior with his or her family.
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always ask the same question. i've talked to general dempsey about this, he's done the same. ask the same question, what can i do for you soldier, sailor, marine, airman? what can i do for you? and the answer i get almost every time is stunning. and americans should know it. and you understand it. the answer i most often get is, mr. vice president, sir, can you get me back to my unit? mr. vice president, sir, can you get back to my unit? i've learned so much. can help. jill and i recently hosted a team of wounded warriors at our home, several hundred, as they prepared to represent the united
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states of america in a competition in london called the invictus games for wounded warriors. and it struck me that there couldn't have been a more appropriate description of the determination and commitment and character shown by all our veterans than these games referred to as the invictus games. the poet william ernest henry wrote a poem called "invictus." the last stanza of that po poem says, it matters not how straight the gate, how charged the punishment, the scroll, i'm the master of my fate, i'm the captain of my soul, i'm the master of my fate, i am the captain of my soul. every single generation of veterans throughout our history
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has been the best that this country has had to offer. it's as true today as it was 200 years ago when a generation of warriors held the ramparts at fort mchenry against the full might of the british navy in the battle of baltimore. as the dawn's early light broke following that battle a young lawyer named francis scott key looked toward the fort's flagpole, asking a simple question -- does that star spangled banner yet wave? that question and its implications and its aspiration have echoed through every forlous fight that's turned american veterans. did it wave in the hands of the first african-american medal of
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honor recipient as he took that banner from a fallen comrade and charged the ram parts of fort wagner? did that star spangled banner yet wave over observation post that medal of honor recipient ryan fitz held against machine gunfire in afghanistan? did that star spangled banner yet wave over six marines atop a mountain in iwo jima? did that star spangled banner yet wave over american troops in trenches from france, beaches of normandy, jungles of vietnam, streets of fallujah and the valleys of afghanistan? and does that star spangled banner yet wave over every forward position, ship, base, woman and man deployed in the service of our nation today? does it wave on the front
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porches of families, waiting out those deployments, silently praying for their warrior's safe return. does it wave over walter reed, fort belv oimbings r, the center for the intrepid, the v.a. trauma center, and so many other places where american warriors continue their march to recovery? it waves in every school house, firehouse, little league field where american veterans serve their community while standing ready. in the guard and reserve. it waves in the hearts of -- hearts of every american long after their time in uniform is through. and in the silent vigil above the row of white headstones here nd over there.
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ladies and gentlemen, francis scott key's questions persist to this day. does that star spadged banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brafe? thanks to all of you veterans, to the unbroken line of warriors who have answered the call, the answer, generation after generation, continues to be yes, now and forever. because as every adversary in every age who has ever come up against you as learned, american warriors never bend, never break, and never, ever, ever yield. [applause] that's why, as i tell every foreign leader i encounter, it's
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never, never been a good bet to bet against the united states of america. because we have you. god bless you all and may god protect our troops. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please rise and join the united states marine band in singing "god less america." >> ♪ god bless america land that i love stand beside her and guide her
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through the night with a light from above from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam god bless america y home sweet home god bless america y home sweet home ♪ [applause] >> and on this veterans day, we're asking, what's your message to veterans? in the conversation at, on twitter the #cspanchat.
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>> coming up at 6:30 on our companion network c-span2, u.s. senator john mccain, vietnam veteran john mccain is talking ability his new book "13 soldiers: a personal history of americans at war." the 13 soldiers profiled in his book served in wars from the revolution to iraq and afghanistan. that's live at 6:30 eastern. >> c-span veterans day coverage continues tonight at 7:00 eastern with selections from this year's white house medal of honor ceremonies, followed at 8:00 by the traditional wreath laying ceremony at arlington national cemetery. then the annual u.s.o. gaza
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featuring general martin dempsey. and discussions on veterans mental health issues as well as other selections from the white house medal of honor ceremonies. >> in september, president obama awarded the medal of honor to two vietnam war veterans, army command severaget major bennie add kins who was awarded the medal for a 36-hour battle. army specialist donald sl oombings t received the -- sloat received the medal post-mue hew mousely. his brother accepted the ward award on his behalf. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> ladies and gentlemen, the resident of the united states. ♪
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> let us pray. most high and gracious god we pray you remind us of the power of sacrifice and how soldiers sacrifice like the two we honor today. they never accept defeat and never quit and one who saved the lives of his friends by self-lish -- selfishly and reflectively giving up his own. these brave men, living and dead, consecrate our hist ary and faith, the courage of our soldier the sacredness of our values, the strength of our nation. today we weave their actions into the fabric of our history
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as they serve in the jungle lappeds. the low may we, the live, never forget what they did, the friends they lost, the family left behind. we take to heart the words spoken after bat bail grieving president, that it is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought have so nobodyably advanced. god of redemption and grace, we ask you to grant these in your holy name, amen. >> please be seated. >> good afternoon, welcome to the white house. more than four decades ago new york early 1970, an american squad in vietnam set out on patrol. they marched down a trail past a
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rice paddy. shots rang out and splintered the bamboo above their heads. the lead soldier tripped a wire a booby trap. a grenade rolled toward the feet of a 20-year-old machine gunner. the pin was pulled and that grenade would explode at any moment. a few years earlier, on the other side of the country, deep in the jungle, a small group of americans were crouched on top of a small hill. it was dark. they were exhausted. the enemy had been pursuing them for days. and now they were surrounded and the enemy was closing in on all sides. two discrete moments but today we honor two american soldiers for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty at each of
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those moments. specialist donald sloat, who stood above that grenade and command sergeant major benny adkins, who fought through a ferocious battle and found himself on that jungle hill. nearly half a century after their acts of valor, a grateful nation bestows upon these men the highest military decoration, the medal of honor. normally, this medal must be awarded within a few years of the action. but sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the fog of war or the passage of time. when new evidence comes to light, certain actions can be reconsidered for this honor and it is entirely right and proper that we have done so and that is why we are here today. so before i go any further, i want to thank everyone present
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here today whose research and testimonies and persistence over so many years finally resulted these two men getting the recognition they so richly deserve. i want to welcome members of the medal of honor society as well as two american families whose live and -- whose love and pride has never wavered. oc sloane grew up in oklahoma. and he grew big toverple 6'4". he loved football. played for a year at a junior college. then he decided to join the army. but when he went to enlist he didn't pass the physical because of high blood pressure he tried again and again. and again. in all he took the physical maybe seven times. until he passed. because he was determined to serve his country.
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in vietnam, don became known as one of the most liked and eliable guys in his company. twice in his first months his patrol was ambushed. he responded with punishing fire from his machine gun, leaving himself vulnerable to the enemy. both times, he was recognized for his bravery. or as don put it in a letter home, i guess they think i'm really gung ho or something. then they set out past that paddy, when those shots rang out. when the lead soldier's foot tripped that wire and set off the booby trap. the grenade rolled right to don's feet. and at that momenting -- at that moment, he could have run.
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at that moment he could have ducked for cover. but don did something truly extraordinary. he reached down and he picked that grenade up and he turned to throw it but there were americans in front of him and behind him, inside the kill zone so don held on to that grenade. he pulls it close to his body and he bent over it. and then as one of the men said, all of a sudden, there was a boom. the blast threw the lead soldier up against a boulder. men were riddled with shrapnel. four were medevaced out, but everyone else survived. don had absorbed the brunt of the explosion with his body. he saved the lives of those next to him. and today, we're joined by two men who were with him on that patrol, sergeant william hacker and specialist michael mohine.
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for decades, don's family only knew he was killed in action. they'd heard he had stepped on a land mine. all those years, this gold star family honored the memory of their son and brother whose name is etched forever on that granite wall not far from here. late in her life, don's mother, evelyn, finally learned the full story of her son's sacrifice. she made it her mission to have his actions properly recognized. sadly, nearly three years ago, evelyn passed away. but she always believed, she knew, that this day would come. she even bought a special dress to wear to the ceremony. we are honored that don and his mom are represented here today by don's brother, sisters, and their families. on behalf of this american family, i'd ask don's brother, dr. bill sloat, to come forward
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for the reading of the citation and to accept the gratitude of ur nation. >> the president of the united states of america, authorized by act of congress, march 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of congress the medal of honor to pecialist four donald p. sloat united states army. he performed acts of gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with second battalion, 196th light infantry brigade during combat operations against an armed enemy in the republic of vietnam on january 17, 1970.
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n that morning, specialist a t's squad was serving as block. as they moved up a small hill, the lead soldier tripped a wire attached to a hand grenade booby trap set up by enemy forces. as the grenade rolled down the hill, specialist sloat knelt and picked up the grenade. after initially trying to throw it he, realized that detonation was imminent. he drew the grenade to his body and shielded his squad members from the blast, saving their lives. ecialist sloat's actions represent sacrificing his life to save others. it is in keeping with the highest traditions of military
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service and reflect great credit on himself and company d, second battalion, first infantry regiment, americal division, nited states army. applause]
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>> at this point, i would like to ask beeney add kings to come join -- bennie adkins to join me n stage. now let me say, first thing you need to know when we met in the off will office, he asked if he could sign back up. [laughter]
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>> list lovely wife was not amused. most days, you can find him at home in alabama. pontoon is garden or boat on the lake. he has been married to mary for 58 years. e is the proud father of five, grandfather of six. at 80, still going strong. a couple of years ago, he came here to the white house with his fellow veterans for breakfast we had on veterans day and he was the only person he knows who has spilled his dessert in the white house. and i just have to correct me -- him, that makes two of us. i messed up my tie, i messed up
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my pants. but in the spring of 1966, he was just 32 years old on his second tour in vietnam, he and his fellow green beer as were -- berets with on the trail. and it was tacked impossible to move without being wounded or killed. but he ran into enemy fire, again and again, to retrieve supplies and ammo to carry the wounded to safety, to man the mortar pitt. three times explosions blasted him out of that mortar pit and three times he returned. i have to be honest in a battle and daring escape that lasted
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four days, he performed so many acts of bravery, we actually don't have time to talk about all of them. let me just mention three. on the first day, he was helping load a wounded american on the helicopter, a soldier aimed his weapon at the wounded soldier. he placed himself directly in the line of fire, helping to save his wounded comrade. another point, he and a few other soldiers with trapped in the mortar pit. their only exit was blocked by enemy machine gun fire. he dug a hole out of the pit and snuck out the other side. another american escaped through that hole, he was shot in the leg and enemy soldier was hoping
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to capture a live p.o.w. and he returned fire. by the third day of battle, he and a few others managed to escape in the jungle and had cuts and wounds all over his body. when a rescue helicopter arrived. on the third night, he found himself with his men exhausted and surrounded with the enemy closing in and after all they had been through, as if it weren't enough, there was something more, you can't make this up, there in the jungle they heard the growls of a tiger. it turns out that tying might have been the best thing that happened to him because he says, the north vietnamese were more scared of that tiger than they were us. the enemy fled, they made their escape and rescued finally the
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next morning. we see the enduring service of our men and women in uniform. he went on to serve a third tour in vietnam. a total of more than two decades in uniform. after he retired, he earned his master's degree, opened up an accounting firm, taught adult education classes. so has earned his retirement despite what he says. living outside of auburn and he is a fan of the auburn tigers and i did a poll of the family and there are some crimson tide fans here. there is obviously some divisions. but he will tell you that he owes everything to the men he served with in vietnam, especially the five who gave their lives in that battle. every member of his unit was killed or wounded. every single one was recognized
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for their service. today, we are joined by some of the men who served with him. including john bradford and major wayne murray. and i would ask them and all of our vietnam veterans who are here today to stand or raise your hand to be recognized. [applause] >> i ask that the citation be ead.
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>> the president of the united states of america, authorized by act of congress, march 3, 1863, has awarded the in the name of congress the medal of honor to sergeant first class, united states army. ergeant first class adkins had risked his life above and beyond the call of duty as serving with fifth special forces group, during combat operations against republicic my at -- of vietnam. when the camp was attacked by the forces in early morning hours, he rushed through intense enemy fired and manned a mortar position, continually adjusting ire.
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>> he temporarily he ran through ex ploding mortar rounds. as the hostile fire subsided, sergeant first class adkins exposed himself to fire while carrying his comrades. when sergeant first class adkins and group of defenders came under small arms fire from members of the group that had defected to fight, he went a ide the camp to help comrade. when a resupply air drop landed outside the camp perimeter, he again moved outside of the camp walls to retrieve the much needed supplies. dug the early morning hours of march 10, 1966, enemy forces launched their main attack and
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within two hours, sergeant adkins was the only man firing a mortar weapon. sergeant first class adkins began placing rifle fire. despite receiving additional wounds from enemy rounds, sergeant first class adkins fought off intense waves. eliminated insurgents after withdrawing with several soldiers. running low on ammunition. he returned to the mortar pit and ran through intense fire back to the bunker. after being ordered to evacuate the camp, sergeant first class adkins and a small group of soldiers destroyed all classified documents and dug their way out of the bunker and fought their way out of the camp. while carrying a wounded soldier, he learned that the last helicopter had already
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departed. sergeant first class adkins led the group until they were rescued by helicopter on march 12, 1966. during the 38-hour battle and 48 hours of escape, fighting with rifles, small arms and hand grenades, it was estimated that sergeant first class adkins had killed between 135-175 of the enemy while sustaining 18 ifferent rounds. [applause]
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[applause] >> over the decades, our vietnam
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veterans didn't always receive the thanks and respect they deserved. that's a fact. but, as we have been reminded again today, our vietnam vets were patriots and are patriots. you served with valor, you made us proud and your service is with us for eternity. so no matter how long it takes, no matter how many years goes by, we will express our gratitude for your extraordinary service. may god watch over don sloat. may god keep safe those who wear our country's uniform and bennie adkins. i would ask our chaplain to return to the stage.
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>> let us continue to pray. as we go forth, do not be afraid. have peace and courage and hold on to what is good. and help the suffering. we honor all people, let us love and serve and may god's blessing be upon us to remain with us always. amen. >> and at this point, i would welcome everybody to join the sloat family and adkins family. i hear the food is pretty good. and once again, to all of you who served and your families who serve along with them. the nation's grateful and your commander in chief could not be prouder. thank you very much everybody. [applause]
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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>> here at 8:00 eastern, wreath-laying ceremony, followed by the annual u.s.o. service members awards gala. at the event, general dempsey broke out in song. here's a look. ♪


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