SFC. William Maud Bryant

U.S. Army - Vietnam War

William Maud Bryant
William Maud Bryant
(Photo Courtesy: Office of the Command Historian)

William Maud Bryant was born in Cochran, Georgia, on February 16, 1933, to Mr. and Mrs. Sebron Bryant. Bryant's parents divorced when he was young, and he was sent to live with an uncle in Detroit, Michigan. He completed high school at Newark Vocational and Technical High School in Newark, New Jersey before he joined the Army on March 16, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan.

During his military career, Sergeant Bryant attended various military schools, including:

  1. Basic Airborne Course, Fort Benning, Georgia;
  2. Basic Heavy Weapons Course, Fort Campbell, Kentucky;
  3. Jumpmaster Course, Fort Bragg, North Carolina;
  4. Advance Non-Commissioned Officer Course, Fort Bragg, North Carolina;
  5. Advance Non-Commissioned Officer Course, Fort Benning, Georgia;
  6. Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol School, Augsburg, Germany;
  7. Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance Course, Hohenfels, Germany;
  8. Counterinsurgency Raider Course, Fort Bragg, North Carolina;
  9. Special Forces Airborne Course, Fort Bragg, North Carolina;
  10. Intelligence Analyst Special Forces Course, Fort Holabird, Maryland.

By September 1968, Sergeant Bryant was serving with Company A, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces, and was transferred to Vietnam.

On 24 March 1969, Sergeant Bryant was serving as Commanding Officer of Civilian Irregular Defense Group Company 321, 2d Battalion, 3rd Mobile Strike Force Command in Long Khanh Province, Republic of Vietnam.

The battalion was ambushed, coming under heavy fire, and eventually surrounded by the elements of three enemy regiments. Sergeant Bryant displayed extraordinary heroism throughout the succeeding 3 hours of incessant attack as he moved throughout the company position heedless of the intense hostile fire while establishing and improving the defensive perimeters, directing fire during critical phases of the battle, distributing ammunition, assisting the wounded, and providing the leadership and inspirational example of courage to his men.

When a helicopter drop of ammunition was made to resupply the beleaguered force, Sergeant Bryant with complete disregard for his own safety ran through the heavy enemy fire to retrieve the scattered ammunition boxes and distributed needed ammunition to his men.

During a lull in the intense fighting, Sergeant Bryant led a patrol outside the perimeter to obtain information on the enemy. The patrol came under intense automatic weapons fire and was pinned down. Sergeant Bryant single-handedly repulsed one enemy attack on his small force and by his heroic action inspired his men to fight off other assaults.

Seeing a wounded enemy soldier some distance from the patrol location, Sergeant Bryant crawled forward alone under heavy fire to retrieve the soldier for intelligence purposes. Finding that the enemy soldier had expired, Sergeant Bryant crawled back to his patrol and led his men back to the company position where he again took command of the defense.

As the siege continued, Sergeant Bryant organized and led a patrol in a daring attempt to break through the enemy encirclement. The patrol had advanced some two hundred meters by heavy fighting when it was pinned down by the intense automatic weapons fire from heavily fortified bunkers. Bryant was severely wounded.

Despite being wounded, he rallied his men, called for helicopter gunship support, and directed heavy suppressive fire upon the enemy positions. Following the last gunship attack, Sergeant Bryant fearlessly charged an enemy automatic weapons position, overrunning it and single-handedly destroying its three defenders.

Inspired by his heroic example, his men renewed their attack on the entrenched enemy. While regrouping his small force for the final assault against the enemy, Sergeant Bryant fell mortally wounded by an enemy rocket.

Sergeant Bryant was killed in action on March 24, 1969, at Long Khanh Province, Republic of Vietnam. President Richard M. Nixon presented the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Bryant's parents on February 16, 1971, in a ceremony at the White House. He was buried in the Raleigh National Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Sergeant Bryant also earned the Bronze Star; the Purple Heart; three Good Conduct Medals; the National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal (Vietnamese); the Combat Infantry Badge; and Parachutist Badge (Vietnamese).

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

"SFC William M. Bryant," Army Special Operations History, https://arsof-history.org/medal_of_honor/recipient_bryant.html