During 2019, Freedoms Foundation and the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove are paying tribute to the living recipients of the Medal of Honor on the anniversary of the actions for which they earned the nation’s highest award for valor. The series continues with the 101st Airborne’s Gordon Ray Roberts, whose platoon went to the aid of an infantry company surrounded by North Vietnamese troops in the A Shau Valley in South Vietnam on July 11, 1969.
Gordon Ray Roberts’ Medal of Honor citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Roberts distinguished himself while serving as a rifleman in Company B, during combat operations.
“Sgt. Roberts’ platoon was maneuvering along a ridge to attack heavily fortified enemy bunker positions which had pinned down an adjoining friendly company. As the platoon approached the enemy positions, it was suddenly pinned down by heavy automatic weapons and grenade fire from camouflaged enemy fortifications atop the overlooking hill.
“Seeing his platoon immobilized and in danger of failing in its mission, Sgt. Roberts crawled rapidly toward the closest enemy bunker. With complete disregard for his safety, he leaped to his feet and charged the bunker, firing as he ran. Despite the intense enemy fire directed at him, Sgt. Roberts silenced the two-man bunker. Without hesitation, Sgt. Roberts continued his one-man assault on a second bunker. As he neared the second bunker, a burst of enemy fire knocked his rifle from his hands. Sgt. Roberts picked up a rifle dropped by a comrade and continued his assault, silencing the bunker. He continued his charge against a third bunker and destroyed it with well-thrown hand grenades.
“Although Sgt. Roberts was now cut off from his platoon, he continued his assault against a fourth enemy emplacement. He fought through a heavy hail of fire to join elements of the adjoining company which had been pinned down by the enemy fire. Although continually exposed to hostile fire, he assisted in moving wounded personnel from exposed positions on the hilltop to an evacuation area before returning to his unit.
“By his gallant and selfless actions, Sgt. Roberts contributed directly to saving the lives of his comrades and served as an inspiration to his fellow soldiers in the defeat of the enemy force. Sgt. Roberts’ extraordinary heroism in action at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”
Peter Collier continues the story in Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty:
“Roberts was back home, stationed at Fort Meade early in 1971, when he was informed that he was to receive the Medal of Honor. With his family looking on, he was presented with the medal by President Richard Nixon on March 2, 1971.
“Three weeks later, Roberts was discharged from the Army. He graduated from college and pursued a career in social work for 18 years; during that time he joined the National Guard and became an officer. He decided to go back on active duty in 1991 and served a tour of duty in Iraq in 2005 as the commander of a logistics battalion.”
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