Alfred V “Doc” Rascon MOH

b. 10/09/1945 Chihuahua, Mexico.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 16/03/1966 Long Khanh Province, Vietnam.

Alfred V Rascon MOH

Rascon was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1945, but his parents emigrated to Oxnard, California, when he was 2 or 3. The family of three lived in an area with bars that service members were known to frequent. Rascon said some of those service members would give him their hand-me-downs or he would buy them for cheap at a nearby second-hand store. This exchange led to his early fascination with the military. Rascon was so enthralled by the idea of becoming a paratrooper that he made his own parachute when he was 7, jumped off his roof and broke his wrist. So, it was no major surprise when he enlisted in the Army right out of high school. His parents had to sign a waiver because he was only 17.

In late 1963, Rascon was assigned as a medic to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade. He was stationed in Okinawa in 1964, but as the Vietnam War escalated, his unit was relocated. In May 1965, he became part of the first major ground combat unit to serve there. Rascon said he learned quickly how medics had to depend on their wits, their skills and each other to aid the wounded during battle.

In the early morning of March 16, 1966, Rascon was assigned to a reconnaissance platoon on its way through Long Khanh province to reinforce another battalion under attack when they were suddenly fired upon. Several of the point men in the squad were seriously wounded.

“It was total chaos,” Rascon said during a Veterans History Project interview. “You could hear everything so distinct and clear. Also, you could smell the cordite from the explosions of the hand grenades going off. … I had no idea what was going on in front of me, other than the fact that somebody said, ‘Hey doc, somebody’s wounded.'”

With that, Rascon moved forward, ignoring directions to stay put until cover came. After several failed attempts to try to reach an injured soldier on an open trail, Rascon jumped up, ignoring the flying bullets and grenades around him, and grabbed the soldier. He then put his own body between the injured man and the enemy fire. Rascon got hit by shrapnel and took a bullet to the hip, but he ignored the pain and pulled his fellow soldier from the fire-laden trail. Rascon, 20, was on the move again when a second soldier yelled that he was almost out of ammunition. So, Rascon crawled through more enemy fire to get back to the soldier he had just saved. Realizing that soldier was dead, he stripped that man of his ammo and gave it to the second soldier to continue his assault. Shortly after that, Rascon was hit in the face and torso by grenade fragments, which really rattled him.

As he did so, he looked up the trail and saw an abandoned machine gun, its ammunition and a spare barrel only about 10 yards from the enemy. Fearing that the gun and ammunition would fall into the wrong hands, an injured Rascon went to recover them. He then handed them off to another soldier, who was able to fire at the enemy, helping the pinned-down squad.

Despite his own wounds, Rascon kept searching for the injured. When he saw point grenadier Neil Haffey being targeted by small-arms fire and grenades, he covered Haffey with his own body, absorbing the grenade blasts himself. The act saved Haffey’s life, but injured Rascon further. “I laid there, I don’t know for how long, and came to, and the fire fight was still going on. And all of a sudden, everything stopped,” Rascon remembered. The enemy had broken contact. “The fire fight terminated, and it was like a dead still.”

Despite his own intense injuries, Rascon stayed on the battlefield to help the wounded and direct their evacuation. It was only after someone put him into a medical helicopter that he allowed himself to be treated.

Rascon wasn’t expected to live, but after a few days at a field hospital in Saigon, he was transferred back to Japan, where he spent the next few months in recovery.  Rascon got out of the Army, went to school and got a job. However, he eventually rejoined the Army with a commission and served another tour of duty in Vietnam. He retired as a major.

Rascon was given a Silver Star for his valor in Vietnam in 1966. His platoon had recommended him for the Medal of Honor, but the request somehow got lost. It wasn’t until a reunion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the 1980s that his fellow soldiers discovered he had never received it. Those men renewed their efforts to get Rascon the medal he deserved. Finally, on February 8, 2000, Rascon was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton at a White House ceremony. Seven members of his platoon were there to celebrate.

Later, Rascon reflected on the medal’s meaning. “You put this around your neck, and for the rest of your life, this is what you have to carry,” he said. “But you have to carry it for yourself and others, and you represent what America is about. It’s a humbling experience, and it’s something that I don’t take lightly.” Rascon and his wife, Carol, currently live in Laurel, Maryland.



Specialist Four Alfred Rascon, distinguished himself by a series of extraordinarily courageous acts on 16 March 1966, while assigned as a medic to the Reconnaissance Platoon, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate). While moving to reinforce its sister battalion under intense enemy attack, the Reconnaissance Platoon came under heavy fire from a numerically superior enemy force. The intense enemy fire from crew-served weapons and grenades severely wounded several point squad soldiers. Specialist Rascon, ignoring directions to stay behind shelter until covering fire could be provided, made his way forward. He repeatedly tried to reach the severely wounded point machine-gunner laying on an open enemy trail, but was driven back each time by the withering fire. Disregarding his personal safety, he jumped to his feet, ignoring flying bullets and exploding grenades to reach his comrade. To protect him from further wounds, he intentionally placed his body between the soldier and enemy machine guns, sustaining numerous shrapnel injuries and a serious wound to the hip. Disregarding his serious wounds he dragged the larger soldier from the fire-raked trail. Hearing the second machine-gunner yell that he was running out of ammunition, Specialist Rascon, under heavy enemy fire crawled back to the wounded machine-gunner stripping him of his bandoleers of ammunition, giving them to the machine-gunner who continued his suppressive fire. Specialist Rascon fearing the abandoned machine gun, its ammunition and spare barrel could fall into enemy hands made his way to retrieve them. On the way, he was wounded in the face and torso by grenade fragments, but disregarded these wounds to recover the abandoned machine gun, ammunition and spare barrel items, enabling another soldier to provide added suppressive fire to the pinned-down squad. In searching for the wounded, he saw the point grenadier being wounded by small arms fire and grenades being thrown at him. Disregarding his own life and his numerous wounds, Specialist Rascon reached and covered him with his body absorbing the blast from the exploding grenades, and saving the soldier’s life, but sustaining additional wounds to his body. While making his way to the wounded point squad leader, grenades were hurled at the sergeant. Again, in complete disregard for his own life, he reached and covered the sergeant with his body, absorbing the full force of the grenade explosions. Once more Specialist Rascon was critically wounded by shrapnel, but disregarded his own wounds to continue to search and aid the wounded. Severely wounded, he remained on the battlefield, inspiring his fellow soldiers to continue the battle. After the enemy broke contact, he disregarded aid for himself, instead treating the wounded and directing their evacuation. Only after being placed on the evacuation helicopter did he allow aid to be given to him. Specialist Rascon’s extraordinary valor in the face of deadly enemy fire, his heroism in rescuing the wounded, and his gallantry by repeatedly risking his own life for his fellow soldiers are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.