Menu

Vietnam War

Four Tennesseans received the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War, including Sergeant Mitchell Stout, who displayed unyielding courage when he picked up an enemy-thrown grenade and used his body to shield and protect his fellow soldiers in the bunker at the expense of his own life.

 


James A. Gardner

Rank: First Lieutenant

Organization: U.S. Army

Company: Headquarters Company, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division

Born: February 7, 1943, Dyersburg, Tennessee

Place/Date: My Canh, Vietnam, February 7, 1966

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Gardner’s platoon was advancing to relieve a company of the 1st Battalion that had been pinned down for several hours by a numerically superior enemy force in the village of My Canh, Vietnam. The enemy occupied a series of strongly fortified bunker positions which were mutually supporting and expertly concealed. Approaches to the position were well covered by an integrated pattern of fire including automatic weapons, machine guns and mortars. Air strikes and artillery placed on the fortifications had little effect. 1st Lt. Gardner’s platoon was to relieve the friendly company by encircling and destroying the enemy force. Even as it moved to begin the attack, the platoon was under heavy enemy fire. During the attack, the enemy fire intensified. Leading the assault and disregarding his own safety, 1st Lt. Gardner charged through a withering hail of fire across an open rice paddy. On reaching the first bunker he destroyed it with a grenade and without hesitation dashed to the second bunker and eliminated it by tossing a grenade inside. Then, crawling swiftly along the dike of a rice paddy, he reached the third bunker. Before he could arm a grenade, the enemy gunner leaped forth, firing at him. 1st Lt. Gardner instantly returned the fire and killed the enemy gunner at a distance of 6 feet. Following the seizure of the main enemy position, he reorganized the platoon to continue the attack. Advancing to the new assault position, the platoon was pinned down by an enemy machine gun emplaced in a fortified bunker. 1st Lt. Gardner immediately collected several grenades and charged the enemy position, firing his rifle as he advanced to neutralize the defenders. He dropped a grenade into the bunker and vaulted beyond. As the bunker blew up, he came under fire again. Rolling into a ditch to gain cover, he moved toward the new source of fire. Nearing the position, he leaped from the ditch and advanced with a grenade in one hand and firing his rifle with the other. He was gravely wounded just before he reached the bunker, but with a last valiant effort he staggered forward and destroyed the bunker, and its defenders with a grenade. Although he fell dead on the rim of the bunker, his extraordinary actions so inspired the men of his platoon that they resumed the attack and completely routed the enemy. 1st Lt. Gardner’s conspicuous gallantry were in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

Additional Information: On August 14, 2009, his sister donated his Medal of Honor medal to his former unit, the 101st Airborne, to be displayed in the division’s headquarters at Fort Campbell.


Don Jenkins

Rank: Private First ClassJENKINS, DON J. Photo

Organization: U.S. Army

Company: Company A, 2d Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division

Born: April 18, 1948, Quality, Kentucky, enlisted in Nashville, Tennessee

Place/Date: Kieng Phong Province, Republic of Vietnam, January 6, 1969

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Staff Sergeant Jenkins (then Private First Class), Alpha Company, distinguished himself while serving as a machine gunner on a reconnaissance mission. When his company came under heavy crossfire from an enemy complex, Staff Sergeant Jenkins unhesitatingly maneuvered forward to a perilously exposed position and began placing suppressive fire on the enemy. When his own machine gun jammed, he immediately obtained a rifle and continued to fire into the enemy bunkers until his machine gun was made operative by his assistant. He exposed himself to extremely heavy fire when he repeatedly both ran and crawled across open terrain to obtain resupplies of ammunition until he had exhausted all that was available for his machine gun. Displaying tremendous presence of mind, he then armed himself with 2 antitank weapons and, by himself, maneuvered through the hostile fusillade to within 20 meters of an enemy bunker to destroy that position. After moving back to the friendly defensive perimeter long enough to secure yet another weapon, a grenade launcher, Staff Sergeant Jenkins moved forward to a position providing no protection and resumed placing accurate fire on the enemy until his ammunition was again exhausted. During this time, he was seriously wounded by shrapnel. Undaunted and displaying great courage, he moved forward 100 meters to aid a friendly element that was pinned down only a few meters from the enemy. This he did with complete disregard for his own wound and despite having been advised that several previous rescue attempts had failed at the cost of the life of one and the wounding of others. Ignoring the continuing intense fire and his painful wounds, and hindered by darkness, he made three trips to the beleaguered unit, each time pulling a wounded comrade back to safety. Staff Sergeant Jenkins’ extraordinary valor, dedication, and indomitable spirit inspired his fellow soldiers to repulse the determined enemy attack and ultimately to defeat the larger force. Staff Sergeant Jenkins’ risk of his life reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Additional Information: Jenkins sustained shrapnel wounds to his stomach and both legs. He worked in coal mines until his retirement in 1999.


David Robert Ray

Rank: Hospital Corpsmen Second Class

Organization: U.S. Navy

Company: 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division

Born: February 14, 1945, McMinnville, Tennessee

Place/Date: Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, March 19, 1969

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HC2c. with Battery D, 2d Battalion, at Phu Loc 6, near An Hoa. During the early morning hours, an estimated battalion-sized enemy force launched a determined assault against the battery’s position and succeeded in effecting a penetration of the barbed-wire perimeter. The initial burst of enemy fire caused numerous casualties among the marines who had immediately manned their howitzers during the rocket and mortar attack. Undaunted by the intense hostile fire, HC2c. Ray moved from parapet to parapet, rendering emergency medical treatment to the wounded. Although seriously wounded himself while administering first aid to a marine casualty, he refused medical aid and continued his lifesaving efforts. While he was bandaging and attempting to comfort another wounded marine, HC2c. Ray was forced to battle two enemy soldiers who attacked his position, personally killing one and wounding the other. Rapidly losing his strength as a result of his severe wounds, he nonetheless managed to move through the hail of enemy fire to other casualties. Once again, he was faced with the intense fire of oncoming enemy troops and, despite the grave personal danger and insurmountable odds, succeeded in treating the wounded and holding off the enemy until he ran out of ammunition, at which time he sustained fatal wounds. HC2c. Ray’s final act of heroism was to protect the patient he was treating. He threw himself upon the wounded marine, thus saving the man’s life when an enemy grenade exploded nearby. By his determined and persevering actions, courageous spirit, and selfless devotion to the welfare of his marine comrades, HC2c. Ray served to inspire the men of Battery D to heroic efforts in defeating the enemy. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Additional Information: Ray won a University of Tennessee Alumni Scholarship and attended classes from 1963-1966. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1966 and attended the Naval Hospital Corps School in San Diego. Ray served aboard the U.S.S. Haven. He requested a tour with the Fleet Marine Force and went to Camp Pendleton for Battlefield training. He was sent to Vietnam with the Marine Division in 1968. Bobby Ray Memorial Elementary School in McMinnville named in his honor. The U.S.S. David R. Ray, commissioned in 1977, is now in the mothball fleet in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.


Walter K. Singleton

Rank: Sergeant

Organization: U.S. Marine Corps

Company: Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division

Born: December 7, 1944, Memphis, Tennessee

Place/Date: Gio Linh District, Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, March 24, 1967

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Singleton’s company was conducting combat operations when the lead platoon received intense small arms, automatic weapons, rocket, and mortar fire from a well-entrenched enemy force. As the company fought its way forward, the extremely heavy enemy fire caused numerous friendly casualties. Sensing the need for early treatment of the wounded, Sgt. Singleton quickly moved from his relatively safe position in the rear of the foremost point of the advance and made numerous trips through the enemy killing zone to move the injured men out of the danger area. Noting that a large part of the enemy fire was coming from a hedgerow, he seized a machinegun and assaulted the key enemy location, delivering devastating fire as he advanced. He forced his way through the hedgerow directly into the enemy strong point. Although he was mortally wounded, his fearless attack killed eight of the enemy and drove the remainder from the hedgerow. Sgt. Singleton’s bold actions completely disorganized the enemy defense and saved the lives of many of his comrades. His daring initiative, selfless devotion to duty and indomitable fighting spirit reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps, and his performance upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Additional Information: Singleton served as an instructor in Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island and in U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis. He received a letter of appreciation for qualifying 100% of the officers-to-be. Singleton ran track for Nicholas Blackwell High School before joining the Marines in 1963. He was born on the same day of the year as that of the Pearl Harbor attack.