Edgar Lee McWethy Jnr MOH

b. 22/11/1944 Leadville, Colorado. d. 21/06/1967 Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 21/06/1967 Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam.

Edgar L McWethy MOH

McWethy was born November 22, 1944, in Leadville, Colorado, to Edgar and Martha. Growing up, he was active in the Boy Scouts and enjoyed being a member of the Baptist church. McWethy was 19 and working at the Leadville post office when he was drafted into the Army in 1964. He received training as a medical specialist and was attached to Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. His unit was sent to Vietnam on September 21, 1966.

On June 21, 1967, McWethy and his platoon were in Binh Dinh Province when they rushed to the site of a downed helicopter. As soon as they set up a defensive perimeter around the aircraft, enemy forces surrounded them on three sides and opened fire. The platoon leader and radio operator were hit almost immediately, so McWethy rushed through the fire-swept area to help. There was nothing he could do to save the radio operator, but the aid he gave the platoon leader helped that man retain command during a critical moment.

After hearing another call for help, McWethy got up again and ran through the exposed area. He was wounded in the head and knocked down, but he got up and kept going, only to be hit again in the leg. In pain, he continued pushing forward until he reached more injured comrades. When McWethy finished treating those men, he noticed a fallen soldier in an open area being raked with enemy fire. McWethy quickly moved toward that man and was injured a third time. He was weak and in extreme pain by the time he made it to the fallen soldier’s side, but he attempted to do his job anyway. McWethy was trying to resuscitate the soldier when he was struck by a fourth bullet and died. McWethy’s desire to do his job in the face of danger inspired the other men in his platoon. They were able to successfully defend their position and force the enemy back.

For his courage, the 21-year-old earned the Medal of Honor. President Richard M. Nixon presented the medal to McWethy’s family at the White House on Oct. 16, 1969. During the same ceremony, Nixon also awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Spc. 4th Class Carmel Harvey Jr., who was in McWethy’s platoon and died in the same firefight. It’s rare for two people in the same platoon to earn the nation’s highest honour for valour during the same engagement. McWethy is buried in Pence Cemetery in Baxter Springs, Colorado, where his parents had relocated.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Serving as a medical aidman with Company B, Sp5c. McWethy accompanied his platoon to the site of a downed helicopter. Shortly after the platoon established a defensive perimeter around the aircraft, a large enemy force attacked the position from three sides with a heavy volume of automatic-weapons fire and grenades. The platoon leader and his radio operator were wounded almost immediately, and Sp5c. McWethy rushed across the fire-swept area to their assistance. Although he could not help the mortally wounded radio operator, Sp5c. McWethy’s timely first aid enabled the platoon leader to retain command during this critical period. Hearing a call for aid, Sp5c. McWethy started across the open toward the injured men, but was wounded in the head and was knocked to the ground. He regained his feet and continued on but was hit again, this time in the leg. Struggling onward despite his wounds, he gained the side of his comrades and treated their injuries. Observing another fallen rifleman lying in an exposed position raked by enemy fire, Sp5c. McWethy moved toward him without hesitation. Although the enemy fire wounded him a third time, Sp5c. McWethy reached his fallen companion. Though weakened and in extreme pain, Sp5c. McWethy gave the wounded man artificial respiration but suffered a fourth and fatal wound. Through his indomitable courage, complete disregard for his safety, and demonstrated concern for his fellow soldiers, Sp5c. McWethy inspired the members of his platoon and contributed in great measure to their successful defense of the position and the ultimate rout of the enemy force. Sp5c. McWethy’s profound sense of duty, bravery, and his willingness to accept extraordinary risks in order to help the men of his unit are characteristic of the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.