C/3/12 SFG(A)

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Company C, 3rd Battalion,
12th Special Forces Group, Airborne

HONORARY UNIT MEMBERS

While C/3/12 was in existence, one of the unit's finest and most popular traditions was the annual Soldier of the Year Banquet.   This formal military function was held each year to honor a junior NCO in the unit who best exemplified what being a Green Beret was all about.  Because unit members held this award in such high regard, every effort was made to procure a Green Beret legend as Guest of Honor and featured speaker for the event.

Several of these Guests of Honor thanked the unit in  a special way by sending personalized photographs of themselves to be hung on the unit's Wall of Honor.  Three of these photographs appear here, representing true Special Forces legends.

 

COL Aaron Bank

Colonel Aaron Bank was the founding father of modern day, U.S. Army Special Forces.  COL Bank was also a regular attendee at many C/3/12 Soldier Of The Year functions.  Because of his status in the Special Forces community, COL Bank was always the guest of honor whenever he attended. COL Bank served with the OSS in WWII, commanded the 10th SFG(A), and was Honorary Colonel of the Regiment (HCOTR; 1st Special Forces).

 

MSG Roy P. Benavidez

MSG Roy P. Benavidez was also a regular attendee at C/3/12's Annual Soldier Of The Year function. Naturally, C/3/12 made him an honorary member of the company. MSG Benavidez was a "Larger-Than-Life" SF trooper and received our country's highest military award, the Medal Of Honor (MOH).

His MOH citation reads as folllows:

Rank and Organization: Master Sergeant, Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group, Republic of Vietnam. Place and Date: West of Loc Ninh on 2 May 1968. Entered Service at: Houston, Texas June 1955. Date and Place of Birth: 5 August 1935, DeWitt County, Cuero, Texas. Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction.

Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt.

Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head.

Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader.

When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter.

Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land.

His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter.

Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft.

Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.

The Valor Foundation has honored MSG Benavidez by creating a statue of him: 

Valorremembered.org

 

LTC Bo Gritz

LTC Bo Gritz was one of the most dynamic and impressive figures C/3/12 soldiers had the opportunity of meeting.  After just a few minutes of conversing with LTC Gritz, you couldn't help but feel that this was one officer who you would gladly follow into combat and that if the stuff really hit the fan, he would take care of you.  The one word that came to mind when C/3/12 soldiers met LTC Gritz was "professionalism."

LTC Gritz sent the unit this photo of himself after being the Guest of Honor at a C/3/12 Soldier of the Year function.   His awards and decorations include: 5 Silver Stars, 2 Legions of Merit, 1 Distinguished Flying Cross, 1 Soldier's Medal, 10 Bronze Stars, 4 Arcoms with "V" device, 2 Purple Hearts, 26 Air Medals with "V" device, 7 Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, and 2 Gold Medals of Cambodia. 

 

 

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