Courage in Life – a requirement to change your 8F’s

8 11 2011

Chris Brady recently published a blog, “Francis of Assisi was no Sissy”(I highly recommend it read it on chrisbrady.typepad.com). It retells the story of a small, humble man who changed the world through boldness and courageous acts.  This article prompted me to think about the underlying characteristic of all the 8F’s(Faith, Family, Finance, Following, Friends, Fun, Fitness, Freedom) which is courage. 

Now when someone thinks, sees, or even writes the word courage, a river of images flood our consciousness.  Some may be of Medal of Honor winners. Some may be of acts like the Tiananmen Square “tank man” or  Martin Luther nailing the Ninety-Five Theses to the church in 1517.  It may even conjure up thoughts of the wagon-trains heading west to make their land claim.  Multiple different sources define the world differently, but I feel we each have a feeling of the act of courage.    I once heard Chuck Cullen – a LIFE leader say,”when a brave man stands, the spines of other men stiffen”.  Now that is a powerfully true statement.  I impress upon you to look up: LLR 481 – Risk, Fear, and Worry by Bill Lewis, and Courage by Gus Lee. Both can found on the LIFE Business site at www.the-life-business.com.  Each will give insight into making Courage a mainstay of your life.

I recently came across a story of a gentleman, Roy P. Benavidez, whom holds the rank of Master Sergeant.  To say his story moved me is a very, gross understatement. This man embodies the act of courage.  I pray I do him justice with this retelling of his story and you tell everyone you can of the men and women just like him.

Special Forces master sergeant Roy Benavidez was the son of a Texas sharecropper. Orphaned at a young age,  and derided as a “dumb Mexican” by his classmates, he left school in the eighth grade to work. He joined the army at nineteen and went on his first tour in Vietnam  in 1964. During his tour, he stepped on a land mine and the wound was to be permanently crippling. I wasn’t. He not only recovered, but became a Green Beret!  On his second tour of Vietnam, in the early morning of May 2, 1968 near Loc Ninh, Sergeant Benavidez monitored by radio a twelve-man reconnaissance patrol.  Three Green Berets, friends of his, and nine Montagnard tribesmen had been dropped in the dense jungle west of Loc Ninh.  Once on the ground, the men were immediately engaged with the North Vietnamese army.  They became surrounded by an entire battalion.

It had become very obvious that the mission had become a mistake.  Three helicopters were sent to evacuate the men. Fierce Small arms and antiaircraft fire, wounding several crew members of the choppers, forced the helicopters to return to the base empty-handed.  As Sergeant Benavidez continued to monitor the radio, he heard his friends scream “Get us out of here” and “So much shooting it sounded like a popcorn machine”.  So he grabbed only a knife and a medic bag and volunteered for a second evac attempt.  He arrived on the scene, to find that none of the men had made it to the LZ.  Four were already dead, including the team leader and the other eight were wounded and unable to move.  Benavidez made the sign of the cross, leapt from the helicopter which had been hovering 10 feet above the ground.  He ran the seventy yards between the LZ and the men.  Before reaching the men, he was shot in the leg, face, and head.  He simply got up and kept moving. 

When he reached the men, he armed himself with an enemy rifle, began to treat the wounded, reposition them, distribute ammunition, and call in air strikes.  He threw smoke grenades to indicate their location and ordered the helicopter pilot to come in close to pick up the wounded.  He dragged four of the wounded aboard, and then, while under intense fire and returning fire with his captured rifle, he ran alongside the chopper as it flew just a few feet off the ground toward the others.  He got the rest of the wounded aboard, as well as the dead, except for the fallen team leader. As he raced to retrieve his body, and the classified documents he carried, Benavidez was shot in the stomach and grenade fragments cut into his back. 

Before he could make his way back toward the helicopter, the pilot was killed and the aircraft crashed upside down.  He helped the wounded escape the burning wreckage and organized them in a defensive perimeter.  He called for more air strikes and fire from circling gunships to suppress the enemy fire enough to allow another evac attempt.  Critically wounded, Benavidez moved constantly along the perimeter, bringing water and ammunition to the defenders, treating their wounds, encouraging them to hold on.  He sustained several more gunshot wounds, but he continued to fight for the next six hours!

When another extraction helicopter landed, he helped the wounded into it, one and two at a time.  On his second trip, an enemy soldier ran up behind him and struck him with his rifle butt.  Sergeant turned toward the man and fought him, hand to hand to the death.  Wounded again, he recovered the rest of his friends. As the last were lifted onto the helicopter, he exchanged more gunfire with the enemy, killing two more North Vietnamese soldiers, and then ran back to collect the classified documents before climbing aboard and apparently dead.  The doctor at Loc Ninh thought him dead anyway.  Bleeding profusely, his intestines spilling from his stomach wounds, completely immobile, and unable to speak, the Sergeant was placed in a body bag.  As the zipper was being pulled up, he spit in the doctor’s face.  They flew him to Saigon for surgery and spent the next year in the hospital recovering from seven serious gunshot wounds, twenty-eight shrapnel wounds, and bayonet wounds in both arms.—-taken from ‘Why Courage Matters’ by J. McCain.

Hope this helps in a vivid picture of Courage.  Make your LIFE courageous!  Aron

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3 responses

8 11 2011
Matt Foote

Thank you for sharing such an amazing and inspirational story.

10 11 2011
Dan Miller

What an amazing story of courage. Thank you for sharing!

10 11 2011
Kim Morisett

Aron, I’m speechless!

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