By Martin | Thursday, November 9, 2017 | 5:29 AM
The time was October 30, 1944. The place was the Vosges Mountains of eastern France. Two hundred seventy-five men of the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry (the Texas Battalion), of the 36th Infantry Division, had been cut off for six days behind German lines. They were desperate. Two other battalions of the 36th Division failed in their rescue attempts. A final rescue attempt was made by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. After five days of battle, the 442nd broke through the German defenses and rescued 211 men. They suffered over 800 casualties. By the end of the war the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was the most decorated Regiment of the war, with 1 Medal of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 569 Silver Stars, and over 800 Bronze Stars. There is one other interesting fact about the 442nd. They were second generation Japanese Americans.
The time was May 31, 1951. The place was Hill 420, about 15 miles from Wontong-Ri, South Korea. It was a little known place in an unfortunately forgotten war. Corporal Rudy Hernandez was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. At 2:00 AM they were attacked by a much larger enemy and began to withdraw. Corporal Hernandez was wounded by a grenade but wanted to buy time for his comrades so he fixed his bayonet and rushed the enemy. He killed six before losing consciousness. His actions enabled his unit to retake the lost ground. After months of rehab, Hernandez was able to stand for his Medal of Honor presentation in April of 1952. Rudy Hernandez was an Hispanic American.
The time was October 15, 1967. It was a place called Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam. It was a little known place in an unfortunately unpopular war. A battery position of the 2nd Battalion, 320th Artillery, 101st Airborne Infantry Division, was overrun by a North Vietnamese Army Infantry unit. A 34-year old staff sergeant began directing fire from his exposed position. Two enemy grenades exploded at his feet, wounding him in the legs. Another grenade then landed in his gun pit near one of his wounded comrades. He grabbed it but before he could throw it back toward the enemy it exploded and he was again wounded. He continued encouraging his men. Later, in 1969, he stood on two artificial limbs and received his Congressional Medal of Honor from Richard M. Nixon. His name was Webster Anderson. He was a Black American.
Like all Americans, veterans come in different personalities, religious backgrounds, and colors. They formed a bond that can only be found in combat. The veterans of World War II fought for each other and a cause . . . and it changed the world. The veterans of Korea and Vietnam fought for the one standing next to them, whether it was the mountains and trenches of Korea or the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam. It did not change the world, but it changed them forever. In battle there was no color, no race, no social standing. There was survival. There was a brotherhood.
November 11 is Veterans Day. It is celebrated in cities and towns all over the United States. Ignore what you may see in television advertising or newspaper sales circulars. This day is not about sales. It is about honoring those who served. It is a time of remembering and appreciating. They were ordinary men and women, thrown into unimaginable circumstances, who did extraordinary things, and who deserve our interminable thanks. The color of freedom is never black, white, brown, or yellow. It is always red, from the blood of the soldiers who shed it.