Girard veteran, hero deserves Medal of Honor
Girard military veteran Ken David was among 14 U.S. soldiers who made it out alive from a May 7, 1970, attack by the North Vietnamese Army. He is credited with saving the lives of the other 13 soldiers.
David, 70, has been honored for his life-saving actions with the nation’s second highest commendation of valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.
Now, however, there is a renewed effort to award David the nation’s highest honor for valor and heroism, the Medal of Honor. If ever there was a deserving recipient, it is Ken David.
The savage attack began before dawn as satchel charges were lobbed at the men of Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry, atop a mountain in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam. When the 90-minute barrage was finished, six Americans had died. Fourteen U.S. soldiers, including Ken David — all wounded — made it out alive.
The harrowing story was laid out to our reporter by Herm Breuer, director of Trumbull County Veteran Services, who for years has been trying to convince the Army of David’s deservedness for the Medal of Honor. The facts have been documented with military documentation, eyewitness accounts and details from David himself.
The North Vietnamese Army saw the area was too much ground for the U.S. soldiers to control, “and came after us,” David relayed recently.
Some reports indicate there were more than 1,000 NVA soldiers and 300 sappers, what David explained were elite or special forces, against the small U.S. force.
David’s lieutenant was the first to die. He was shot and killed instantly. David’s sergeant also was injured, but remained alive. David, the group’s radio / telephone operator, handed over the radio to his sergeant and took the fight to the enemy, laying down suppressive fire to draw the attention away from wounded American soldiers, Breuer said recently.
At one point he was alone to defend his portion of the defensive perimeter. His main objective was to stay alive.
“I just did what I was trained to do,” David said.
The first rescue helicopter arrived about an hour into the fight. When it began to draw enemy fire while trying to land, David drew the attention back to himself by screaming and waving at NVA soldiers, according to Breuer.
David was wounded during the fight. He said shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade hit him in the back, and both of his eardrums were blown out.
Still, he continued to take the fight to the enemy. When the fighting began, he had 28 magazines of bullets. He was down to one when the fighting stopped, and at points during the battle, was throwing back satchel charges that were thrown by NVA soldiers.
“I did what I had to do. The instinct to survive was there,” David said.
If it weren’t for his (David’s) actions, all 20 would have died,” Breuer said.
And that’s why David deserves the Medal of Honor, Breuer said, and why a delegation of Ohio lawmakers has written U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy urging him to recommend and support David being awarded the prestigious medal.
Requests have been submitted to the human resources command, but each was returned asking for more information, which was provided. In addition, personal visits were made to the military archives center in College Park, Md., and requests were made to retrieve records from other military records management centers.
“The original wartime chain of command was re-created. Two living eyewitnesses were located, and affidavits provided. This travesty of justice can stand no longer,” the letter to McCarthy states.
“We ask that this case be given special attention and full reconsideration. Fifty years is too long given what this soldier did that morning to save the lives of his comrades. His bravery and gallantry that May morning are worthy of our nation’s highest award,” the letter states.
The effort has been ongoing for about 20 years, but the valiant effort occurred 50 years ago.
We see absolutely no reason why it should take so long to honor the efforts and heroism of Ken David. He deserves the Medal of Honor and should receive the honor promptly.