Saturday, November 11, 2017

Welcoming Home A Veterans Day Hero


Returning to DFW airport yesterday after an out of state business trip, I️ witnessed something incredible. After landing, I️ left my plane, and on the way to the baggage claim, only two gates down from mine, I️ was stopped in my tracks.

I’m a huge supporter of our military and law enforcement, so I’m a sucker for any display of patriotism. Flags, National Anthem, historical monuments, all of it. So when I️ was about to exit to the baggage claim and saw a crowd congregating around a bunch of flags in the terminal, I️ had to take a look.

I️ had never witnessed the return of an Honor Flight before. But by some fluke, I️ happened to be at the airport at the right time. I️ have to say, it was incredibly moving.


It took me a minute to figure out what was going on. But then people started clapping and cheering as a gentleman exited the plane. He shook hands, waved, and portrayed the forced smile of a veteran who would undoubtedly refuse any thanks or recognition; and would probably respond instead with something along the lines of “I’m no one special - I️ was just doing my job”.

This “no one special”, however, happened to be a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

At this moment, I️ wasn’t entirely certain of who this man was, or what he had done to not only receive an Honor Flight, but to also experience this overwhelmingly-exuberant welcome home.


But as the welcoming ceremony progressed, he slowly made his way, along with his “guardian” (a term for the volunteer assigned to escort him for the duration of the Honor Flight trip), to a placard showing the pursed face of a young Vietnam veteran from 1966, along with his story.

Someone handed him a pen and directed him to sign the placard, then afterward he turned to face the crowd, waved, posed for a few pictures, and then began making his way to the baggage claim area.

I’ve met many famous people over the years; most of them, pretty forgettable. I️ absolutely hate to be “that guy” who falls all over himself when confronted with a celebrity. Due to that, I️ have missed several opportunities in the past to meet famous people, because I️ just didn’t want to interrupt them or make an ass of myself. But I️ couldn’t pass up an opportunity to at least shake the hand of a recipient of the Medal of Honor.


As you probably know, I’m in sales, so my job involves lots and lots of talking, all day, every day. So I️ am rarely at a loss for words. But as this hero walked past me, I️ stuck out my hand, grasped his, and all I️ managed to get out was a feeble “thank you for your service”. That’s all I️ could manage.

I️ was truly humbled by the experience. I’m sure if you asked this man, he would probably have little to no recollection of meeting me. But I️ assure you that it is a moment I️ will remember for many years.

So to our veterans, our active duty service members, and especially U.S. Army Captain Robert Foley, I️ salute you. You are true American heroes, and are better men and women than I️ could ever hope to be.

<><><>

Robert F. Foley
November 5, 1966
Republic of Vietnam

Captain, U.S. Army
Company A, 2d Battalion, 27th
Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

Medal of Honor Citation


“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action and at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Foley’s company was ordered to extricate another company of the battalion. Moving through the dense jungle to aid the besieged unit, Company A encountered a strong enemy force occupying well concealed, defensive positions, and the company’s leading element quickly sustained several casualties. Capt. Foley immediately ran forward to the scene of the most intense action to direct the company’s efforts. Deploying one platoon on the flank, he led the other two platoons in an attack on the enemy in the face of intense fire. During this action both radio operators accompanying him were wounded. At grave risk to himself he defied the enemy’s murderous fire, and helped the wounded operators to a position where they could receive medical care. As he moved forward again one of his machine gun crews was wounded. Seizing the weapon, he charged forward firing the machine gun, shouting orders and rallying his men, thus maintaining the momentum of the attack. Under increasingly heavy enemy fire he ordered his assistant to take cover and, alone, Capt. Foley continues to advance firing the machine gun until the wounded had been evacuated and the attack in this area could be resumed. When movement on the other flank was halted by the enemy’s fanatical defense, Capt. Foley moves to personally direct this critical phase of the battle. Leading the renewed effort he was blown off his feet and wounded by an enemy grenade. Despite his painful wounds he refused medical aid and persevered in the forefront of the attack on the enemy redoubt. He led the assault on several enemy gun emplacements and, single-handedly, destroyed three such positions. His outstanding personal leadership under intense enemy fire during the fierce battle which lasted for several hours, inspired his men to heroic efforts and was instrumental in the ultimate success of the operation. Capt. Foley’s magnificent courage, selfless concern for his men and professional skill reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.”


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