b. 28/02/1949 Shreveport, Louisiana. d. 26/04/1968 near Phu Bai, Vietnam.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 26/04/1968 near Phu Bai, Vietnam.
Lee was born February 28, 1949, in Shreveport, Louisiana, where his parents lived. However, for reasons that are unclear, he and his brother, Ken, grew up with his grandparents in San Antonio. Lee was a member of the Youth for Christ, Harlandale Christian Church and the Young Republicans.
After graduating from Harlandale High School in 1967, Lee enlisted in the Army. He trained at Fort Campbell with the 101st Airborne Division and was eventually assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 1st Brigade. Lee arrived in Vietnam in January 1968 as the Tet Offensive was beginning. His unit was one that saw extensive combat during the war.
On April 26, 1968, Lee was with Company C near Phu Bai, an Army and Marine Corps base near the Central Vietnam coast. He was serving as the radio telephone operator with 3rd Platoon, the company’s lead element, when they were fired on by North Vietnamese soldiers hidden in well-concealed bunkers.
The attack killed or wounded about 50% of the platoon, so the remaining men quickly moved to find cover to help the wounded and reorganize. Lee, however, pushed through the heavy gunfire to reach wounded soldiers who were trapped and needed first aid.
Once his unit reorganized, they pushed forward to assault the enemy bunkers. Lee stayed in close radio contact with the company commander to relay clear, precise orders to his platoon leader.
As Lee was moving forward toward the bunkers, he saw four enemy soldiers preparing to ambush his platoon’s lead element, which hadn’t noticed them. Without hesitating, Lee handed off his radio and charged toward the concealed enemy soldiers. Single-handedly, he overran their position, killing all of the enemy soldiers while capturing four automatic weapons and a rocket launcher.
Lee pushed on to attack another enemy position despite a heavy barrage of gunfire. The 18-year-old suffered serious injuries, but he continued his attack, crawling forward so he could provide accurate cover fire for his platoon, which was able to get into place and overrun that second position. It wasn’t until they were in the clear that Lee stopped firing. Soon after, he died from his injuries.
Lee’s actions saved the lives of the lead element of his platoon, which couldn’t have taken out those key enemy defensive positions without him. For that, he was quickly nominated and approved for the Medal of Honor.
Lee’s body was returned home and buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. On April 7, 1970, less than a year after his death, Lee’s grandmother accepted the nation’s highest honor on his behalf. President Richard M. Nixon presented it to her during a White House ceremony. Lee’s name is well-known at Fort Campbell, the home of the 101st Airborne Division for which he fought. A post recreation centre was dedicated to him in the early 1970s. More recently, in 2013, a centre that helps soldiers transition back to civilian life was named in his honour.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Lee distinguished himself near the city of Phu Bai in the province of Thua Thien. Pfc. Lee was serving as the radio telephone operator with the 3d Platoon, Company B. As lead element for the company, the 3d Platoon received intense surprise hostile fire from a force of North Vietnamese Army regulars in well-concealed bunkers. With 50 percent casualties, the platoon maneuvered to a position of cover to treat their wounded and reorganize, while Pfc. Lee moved through the heavy enemy fire giving lifesaving first aid to his wounded comrades. During the subsequent assault on the enemy defensive positions, Pfc. Lee continuously kept close radio contact with the company commander, relaying precise and understandable orders to his platoon leader. While advancing with the front rank toward the objective, Pfc. Lee observed four North Vietnamese soldiers with automatic weapons and a rocket launcher lying in wait for the lead element of the platoon. As the element moved forward, unaware of the concealed danger, Pfc. Lee immediately and with utter disregard for his own personal safety, passed his radio to another soldier and charged through the murderous fire. Without hesitation he continued his assault, overrunning the enemy position, killing all occupants, and capturing four automatic weapons and a rocket launcher. Pfc. Lee continued his one-man assault on the second position through a heavy barrage of enemy automatic-weapons fire. Grievously wounded, he continued to press the attack, crawling forward into a firing position and delivering accurate covering fire to enable his platoon to maneuver and destroy the position. Not until the position was overrun did Pfc. Lee falter in his steady volume of fire and succumb to his wounds. Pfc. Lee’s heroic actions saved the lives of the lead element and were instrumental in the destruction of the key position of the enemy defense. Pfc. Lee’s gallantry at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, the 502d Infantry, and the U.S. Army.
BURIAL LOCATION: FORT SAM HOUSTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS.
SECTION X, GRAVE 2475.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.