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Lawrence Joel

Lawrence Joel - Medal of Honor Recipient


U.S. Army
Medal Of Honor, Vietnam

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A numerically superior Viet Cong element launched a vicious attack which wounded or killed nearly every man in the lead squad of Specialist Sixth Class Joel's company. After treating the men wounded by the initial burst of gunfire, he moved forward to assist others. While going from man to man, he was struck in the right leg by machinegun fire. He bandaged his own wound and self-administered morphine, then continued his search for wounded. Even as bullets hit the dirt around him, held plasma bottles high while kneeling completely engrossed in his life saving mission. After being struck a second time and with a bullet in his thigh, he dragged himself over the battlefield and succeeded in treating 13 more men before his medical supplies ran out. Displaying resourcefulness, he saved the life of one man by placing a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood. As one of the platoons pursued the Viet Cong, an insurgent force in concealed positions opened fire on the platoon and wounded many more soldiers. After the 24 hour battle subsided and the Viet Cong dead numbered 410, snipers continued to harass the company. Sp6c. Joel continued to comfort and treat the wounded until his own evacuation was ordered.

When the Medal of Honor was presented to Lawrence Joel he became the first Black American to personally received the award from the President, and the first living Black recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Spanish-American War.

From the Collection of SSgt David Bata
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