Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969

Contents:
Author: Lyndon B. Johnson  | Date: September 19, 1968

487
Remarks at the Medal of Honor Ceremony for Staff Sgt. Delbert O. Jennings, Sgt. Leonard B. Keller, Spec. 4 Raymond R. Wright, First Sgt. David H. McNerney, and Staff Sgt. Kenneth E. Stumpf, USA.
September 19, 1968

Secretary Clifford, Secretary Resor, General Wheeler, General Westmoreland, Members of Congress, most distinguished guests:
We have come here today to honor five unusually brave men in the only way that we know how: by awarding them a medal that expresses, as best we can, our great gratitude for their gallant service to theircountry.

They represent two generations of Americans. The oldest of them was born in the midst of the Depression. The youngest of them was born at the end of the Second World War.

So the worlds that they grew up in were very different. But the decision they made was the same. When the time came, they answered the challenge of our beloved late President, John Kennedy: "ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."

They represent the courage, and the selflessness, the eternal striving of the American spirit.

There are other qualities in our people’s spirit, for which medals are seldom awarded. Impatience is one of them.

Impatience—with things as they are—has always been an engine of progress in America. Impatient men built our great economy. Impatient men demanded that a decent education be available for every child and asked why some should have good medical care in their old age, while others went without help.

It was 25 years ago that an impatient President insisted that we could build 50,000 airplanes a year in the midst of a war, only to be challenged—and later to learn that we built twice that many.

Millions of white and Negro Americans were impatient with the slow progress of human rights in America. They demanded action to secure those rights in our time, and not a generation from now. And they got it.

So there is much to be said for this American virtue of impatience. But it also has another side.

Sometimes, in our impatience to see why the plant is growing so slowly, we are tempted to pull it up and examine its roots. Finding that a social program has not changed living conditions overnight, sometimes we are inclined to want to abandon it. Discovering that a limited war of insurgency is really difficult to fight, and that the institutions of self-government are very slow to build, some Americans are ready to forsake our commitment—to ignore our national interest—even if that may mean a larger conflict later on.

The men who stand here beside me today—impatient men who did not wait in the bunker until the battle was over, but joined it with incredible courage—know that the conflict in Vietnam demands something more than impatience. It demands steadfastness-the willingness and the ability to endure hardship and disappointment as long as the cause is honorable and in the quest for an honorable peace.

The history of our country suggests that what the times demand, our people produce. And these times demand not only impatience that drives us to change and improve our country, but also steadfastness—so that what we have begun in hope will not be discarded in frustration and anger—so that the bravery of these men, and their hundreds of thousands of comrades in arms, will not have been offered in vain.

We salute you. We thank you. We honor you.
Thank you very much.

[Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor read the five citations, the texts of which follow.]

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

STAFF SERGEANT DELBERT O. JENNINGS UNITED STATES ARMY


for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyondthe call of duty:

Staff Sergeant Delbert O. Jennings distinguished himself with Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 12th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division, in Kim Song Valley, Republic of Vietnam, on 27 December 1966. Part of Company C was defending an artillery position when attacked by a North Vietnamese Army regiment supported by mortar, recoilless-rifle, and machine gun fire. At the outset, Sergeant Jennings sprang to his bunker, astride the main attack route, and slowed the on-coming enemy wave with highly effective machine gun fire. Despite a tenacious defense in which he killed at least twelve enemy, his squad was forced to the rear. After covering the withdrawal of the squad, he rejoined his men, destroyed an enemy demolition crew about to blow up a nearby howitzer, and killed three enemy at his initial bunker position. Ordering his men back into a secondary position, he again covered their withdrawal, killing one enemy with the butt of his weapon. Observing that some of the defenders were unaware of an enemy force in their rear, he raced through a fire swept area to warn the men, turn their fire on the enemy, and lead them into the secondary perimeter. Assisting in the defense of the new position, he aided the air-landing of reinforcements by throwing white phosphorus grenades on the landing zone despite dangerously silhouetting himself with the light. After helping to repulse the final enemy assaults, he led a group of volunteers well beyond friendly lines to an area where eight seriously wounded men lay. Braving enemy sniper fire and ignoring the presence of booby traps in the area, they recovered the eight men who would have probably perished without early medical treatment. Sergeant Jennings’ extraordinary heroism and inspirational leadership saved the lives of many of his comrades and contributed greatly to the defeat of a superior enemy force. His actions stand with the highest traditions of the military profession and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

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 LEONARD B. KELLER UNITED STATES ARMY


for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Sergeant Leonard B. Keller distinguished himself on 2 May 1967 as a machine gunner with Company A, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division in the Ap Bac Zone, Republic of Vietnam. Sweeping through an area where an enemy ambush had occurred earlier, Sergeant Keller’s unit suddenly came under intense automatic weapons and small arms fire from a number of enemy bunkers and numerous snipers in nearby trees. Sergeant Keller quickly moved to a position where he could fire at a bunker from which automatic weapons fire was received, killing one Viet Cong who attempted to escape. Leaping to the top of a dike, he and a comrade charged the enemy bunkers, dangerously exposing themselves to the enemy fire. Armed with a light machine gun, Sergeant Keller and his comrade began a systematic assault on the enemy bunkers. While Sergeant Keller neutralized the fire from the first bunker with his machine gun, the other soldier threw in a hand grenade killing its occupant. Then he and the other soldier charged a second bunker, killing itsoccupant. A third bunker contained an automatic rifleman who had pinned down much of the friendly platoon. Again, with utter disregard for the fire directed at them, the two men charged, killing the enemy within. Continuing their attack, Sergeant Keller and his comrade assaulted four more bunkers, killing the enemy within. During their furious assault, Sergeant Keller and his comrade had been almost continuously exposed to intense sniper fire as the enemy desperately sought to stop their attack. The ferocity of their assault had carried the soldiers beyond the line of bunkers into the tree line, forcing the snipers to flee. The two men gave immediate chase, driving the enemy away from the friendly unit. When his ammunition was exhausted, Sergeant Keller returned to the platoon to assist in the evacuation of the wounded. The two-man assault had driven an enemy platoon from a well prepared position, accounted for numerous enemy dead, and prevented further friendly casualties. Sergeant Keller’s selfless heroism, indomitable fighting spirit, and extraordinary gallantry saved the lives of many of his comrades and inflicted serious damage on the enemy. His acts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

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 FOUR RAYMOND R. WRIGHT UNITED STATES ARMY

for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

On 2 May 1967, while serving as a rifleman with Company A, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, in the Ap Sac Zone, Republic of Vietnam, Specialist Four Raymond R. Wright distinguished himself during a combat patrol in an area where an enemy ambush had occurred earlier. Specialist Wright’s unit suddenly came under intense automatic weapons and small arms fire from an enemy bunker system protected by numerous snipers in nearby trees. Despite the heavy enemy fire, Specialist Wright and another soldier leaped to the top of a dike to assault the position. Armed with a rifle and several grenades, he and his comrade exposed themselves to intense fire from the bunkers as they charged the nearest one. Specialist Wright raced to the bunker, threw in a grenade, killing its occupant. The two soldiers then ran through a hail of fire to the second bunker. While his comrade covered him with his machine gun, Specialist Wright charged the bunker and succeeded in killing its occupant with a grenade. A third bunker contained an automatic rifleman who had pinned down much of the friendly platoon. While his comrade again covered him with machine gun fire, Specialist Wright charged in and killed the enemy rifleman with a grenade. The two soldiers worked their way through the remaining bunkers, knocking out four of them. Throughout their furious assault, Specialist Wright and his comrade had been almost continuously exposed to intense sniper fire from the tree line as the enemy desperately sought to stop their attack. Overcoming stubborn resistance from the bunker system, the men advanced into the tree line forcing the snipers to retreat, giving immediate chase, and driving the enemy away from the friendly unit so that it advanced across the open area without further casualty. When his ammunition was exhausted, Specialist Wright returned to hisunit to assist in the evacuation of the wounded. This two-man assault had driven an enemy platoon from a well prepared position, accounted for numerous enemy casualties, and averted further friendly casualties. Specialist Wright’s extraordinary heroism, courage, and indomitable fighting spirit saved the lives of many of his comrades and inflicted serious damage on the enemy. His acts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

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

FIRST SERGEANT DAVID H. MC NERNEY UNITED STATES ARMY

for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

On 22 March 1967, First Sergeant McNerney distinguished himself when his unit, Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry was attacked by a North Vietnamese battalion near Polei Doc, Republic of Vietnam. Running through the hail of enemy fire to the area of heaviest contact, he was assisting in the development of a defensive perimeter when he encountered several enemy at close range. He killed the enemy but was painfully injured when blown from his feet by a grenade. In spite of this injury, he assaulted and destroyed an enemy machine gun position that had pinned down five of his comrades beyond the defensive line. Upon learning his commander and artillery forward observer had been killed, he assumed command of the company. He adjusted artillery fire to within twenty meters of the position in a daring measure to repulse enemy assaults. When the smoke grenades used to mark the position were gone, he moved into a nearby clearing to designate the location to friendly aircraft. In spite of enemy fire he remained exposed until he was certain the position was spotted and then climbed into a tree and tied the identification panel to the highest branches. Then he moved among his men readjusting their position, encouraging the defenders and checking the wounded. As the hostile assaults slackened, he began clearing a helicopter landing site to evacuate the wounded. When explosives were needed to remove large trees, he crawled outside the relative safety of his perimeter to collect demolition material from abandoned Rucksacks. Moving through a fusillade of fire he returned with the explosives that were vital to the clearing of the landing zone. Disregarding the pain of his injury and refusing medical evacuation First Sergeant McNerney remained with his unit until the next day when the new commander arrived. First Sergeant McNerney’s outstanding heroism and leadership were inspirational to his comrades. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the armed forces of his country.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

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

STAFF SERGEANT KENNETH E. STUMPF

UNITED STATES ARMY

for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Staff Sergeant Kenneth E. Stumpf (then Specialist Four) distinguished himself on 25 April 1967, while serving as a Squad Leader of the 3d Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, on a search and destroy mission near Duc Pho in the Republic of Vietnam. As Sergeant Stumpf’s company approached a village, it encountered a North Vietnamese rifle company occupying a well fortified bunker complex. During the initial contact, three men from his squad fell wounded in front of a hostile machine gun emplacement. The enemy’s heavy volume of fire prevented the unit from moving to the aid of the injured men, but Sergeant Stumpf left his secure position in a deep trench and ran through the barrage of incoming rounds to reach his wounded comrades. He picked up one of the men and carried him back to the safety of the trench. Twice more Sergeant Stumpf dashed forward while the enemy turned automatic weapons and machine guns upon him, yet he managed to rescue the remaining two wounded squad members. He then organized his squad and led an assault against several enemy bunkers from which continuously heavy fire was being received. He and his squad successfully eliminated two of the bunker positions, but one to the front of the advancing platoon remained a serious threat. Arming himself with extra hand grenades, Sergeant Stumpf ran over open ground, through a volley of fire directed at him by a determined enemy, toward the machine gun position. As he reached the bunker, he threw a hand grenade through the aperture. It was immediately returned by the occupants, forcing Sergeant Stumpf to take cover. Undaunted, he pulled the pins on two more grenades, held them for a few seconds after activation, then hurled them into the position, this time successfully destroying the emplacement. With the elimination of this key position, his unit was able to assault and overrun the enemy. Sergeant Stumpf’s relentless spirit of aggressiveness, intrepidity, and ultimate concern for the lives of his men, 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 and the United States Army.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:55 a.m. at a special Army award ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Clark M. Clifford, Secretary of Defense, Stanley R. Resor, Secretary of the Army, Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. William C. Westmoreland, Army Chief of Staff.

Contents:

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options


Title: Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options


Title: Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Lyndon B. Johnson, "487 Remarks at the Medal of Honor Ceremony for Staff SGT. Delbert O. Jennings, SGT. Leonard B. Keller, Spec. 4 Raymond R. Wright, First SGT. David H. McNerney, and Staff SGT. Kenneth E. Stumpf, USA.," Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369 964–968. Original Sources, accessed September 21, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRAV9NKEGCKL1HA.

MLA: Johnson, Lyndon B. "487 Remarks at the Medal of Honor Ceremony for Staff SGT. Delbert O. Jennings, SGT. Leonard B. Keller, Spec. 4 Raymond R. Wright, First SGT. David H. McNerney, and Staff SGT. Kenneth E. Stumpf, USA." Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369, pp. 964–968. Original Sources. 21 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRAV9NKEGCKL1HA.

Harvard: Johnson, LB, '487 Remarks at the Medal of Honor Ceremony for Staff SGT. Delbert O. Jennings, SGT. Leonard B. Keller, Spec. 4 Raymond R. Wright, First SGT. David H. McNerney, and Staff SGT. Kenneth E. Stumpf, USA.' in Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369, pp.964–968. Original Sources, retrieved 21 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CRAV9NKEGCKL1HA.