Congressional Medal of Honor

Webster Anderson

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Presentation Ceremony at The White House, November 24, 1969. President Nixon's Remarks on Presenting the Medal of Honor to Three Members of the United States Army. Citation for Webster Anderson read by Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor.

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NOVEMBER 24, 1969



Ladies and gentlemen,

We welcome you all to the White House today. We are gathered here for a very special ceremony, one that will mean a great deal to all of us personally, particularly to the families of those who are being honored and also a great deal to this Nation.

At the present time, coming back from the moon are three very brave men. They will splash down in the Pacific later today. The whole Nation, the whole world, will honor their exploits—our three astronauts, the second team to go to the moon and to land on the moon and to return safely.

Today in this room, we honor three other very brave men. They did not go to the moon. They went to Vietnam. And along with hundreds of thousands of other young Americans they have helped there to defend the principles of this Nation, and they have served with uncommon courage and uncommon valor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once spoke about the "contagion of courage," that courage some way, when we see it in others, helps to build it up in all of us, and in a whole nation.

Those men who have gone to the moon have raised the spirit of the Nation.

These men, too, by their courage helped raise the spirit of the whole Nation.

At this time, it is a very great honor for all of us to join here in this room to confer upon these three men the highest distinction that this Nation has, the Medal of Honor.

The Secretary of the Army will 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 Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson, (then Staff Sergeant), distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as Chief of Section in Battery A, 2d Battalion, 320th Artillery, 101st Airborne Infantry Division (Airmobile) against a hostile force near Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam. During the early morning hours on 15 October 1967, Battery A's defensive position was attacked by a determined North Vietnamese Army Infantry unit supported by heavy mortar, recoilless rifle, rocket propelled grenade and automatic weapon fire. The initial enemy onslaught breached the battery defensive perimeter. Sergeant Anderson with complete disregard for his personal safety mounted the exposed parapet of his howitzer position and became the mainstay of the defense of the battery position. Sergeant Anderson directed devastating direct howitzer fire on the assaulting enemy while providing rifle and grenade defensive fire against enemy soldiers attempting to overrun his gun section position. While protecting his crew and directing their fire against the enemy from his exposed position, two enemy grenades exploded at his feet knocking him down and severely wounding him in the legs. Despite the excruciating pain and though not able to stand, Sergeant Anderson valorously propped himself on the parapet and continued to direct howitzer fire upon the closing enemy and to encourage his men to fight on. Seeing an enemy grenade land within the gun pit near a wounded member of his gun crew, Sergeant Anderson, heedless of his own safety, seized the grenade and attempted to throw it over the parapet to save his men. As the grenade was thrown from the position it exploded and Sergeant Anderson was again grievously wounded. Although only partially conscious and severely wounded, Sergeant Anderson refused medical evacuation and continued to encourage his men in the defense of the position. Sergeant Anderson by his inspirational leadership, professionalism, devotion to duty and complete disregard for his own welfare was able to maintain the defense of his section position and to defeat a determined enemy attack. Sergeant Anderson's conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

We thank you very much for coming to this ceremony. I think you would like to know that at the conclusion of these ceremonies we always provide a very special tour of the White House for, of course, the winners of the Medal of Honor and their families. We are going to give you that tour now. We hope you enjoy it. Thank you very much.

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