Congressional Medal of Honor

Clarence Eugene Sasser

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Presentation Ceremony at The White House, March 7, 1969. President Nixon's Remarks Upon Awarding the Medal of Honor to Three Members of the United States Army. Citation for Clarence Eugene Sasser read by Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor.

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MARCH 7, 1969



Mr. Secretary, General Westmoreland, all of our distinguished guests on this occasion,

I have been honored many times since assuming the Office of the Presidency of the United States, but I can say from my heart that today is the highest honor—the highest honor because I have for the first time the privilege of representing the United States of America in presenting the Congressional Medal of Honor to three of our fine young men who have fought for the cause of freedom and the cause of peace in Vietnam.

The citations will be read by the Secretary of the Army, and they will tell us better than any words I could utter what these men have done beyond the call of duty.

I would like to add just a personal word, a word that I think all of the American people would join me in. We really cannot honor these men, but they have honored America. They have added to the honor of the Nation by what they have done.

They share several things in common: They are men who risked their lives for their fellow man. They are men who faced death and instead of losing their courage they gave courage to the men around them. And, finally, they are young men.

The oldest man is 30; Sergeant Hooper is 30, Sergeant Zabitosky is 26, and Specialist Sasser is 21.

That leads me to give you a conclusion that I reached after studying all of the Congressional Medal of Honor winners in this war. Their average age is 27, which brings home a thought that we must always remember: When we think of America's younger generation, we sometimes have a tendency to emphasize what is wrong with them, and sometimes young people do get into trouble; sometimes they do not follow the patterns that older people think they ought to follow.

But in the magnificent records of these three young men, they have demonstrated to us that we can be very proud of our younger generation. They are magnificent men, magnificent in their idealism. Idealism is often shown by words, but they have demonstrated their idealism by their deeds.

And because they have made us proud of being Americans and also reminded us that we should be proud of our younger generation, the youth of America, I am honored to be here with them.

Now, Mr. Secretary, if you would read the citations.

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to Specialist 5 Clarence E. Sasser United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Specialist 5 Clarence E. Sasser (then Private First Class) distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on 10 January 1968 while assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division in the Republic of Vietnam. On this date he was serving as a medical aidman with Company A, 3d Battalion, on a reconnaissance in force operation in Ding Tuong Province. His company was making an air assault when suddenly it was taken under heavy small arms, recoilless rifle, machine gun and rocket fire from well fortified enemy positions on three sides of the landing zone. During the first few minutes, over thirty casualties were sustained. Without hesitation, Specialist Sasser ran across an open rice paddy through a hail of fire to assist the wounded. After helping one man to safety, he was painfully wounded in the left shoulder by fragments of an exploding rocket. Refusing medical attention, he ran through a barrage of rocket and automatic weapons fire to aid casualties of the initial attack and, after giving them urgently needed treatment, continued to search for other wounded. Despite two additional wounds immobilizing his legs, he dragged himself through the mud toward another soldier one hundred meters away. Although in agonizing pain and faint from loss of blood, Specialist Sasser reached the man, treated him, and proceeded on to encourage another group of soldiers to crawl two hundred meters to relative safety. There he attended their wounds for five hours until they were evacuated. Specialist Sasser's conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and intrepidity at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

That concludes the ceremony. We thank you all very much for coming and we are honored that you could be here to participate in this very historic ceremony. Thank you.

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