b. 25/11/1945 Caraway, Arkansas. d. 17/07/2010 Rose Bud, Arkansas.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 26/08/1968 Tam Ky, Vietnam.
Bacon was born in Caraway, Arkansas, on November 25, 1945, one of nine children. His parents, Johno and Beta Imogene “Jean” (Meadows) Bacon, were sharecroppers on a cotton farm. His siblings were sisters Jenny, Brenda, Judy, Hope, and Wanda and brothers Doyle, Johno Jr., and Andy. In 1951, a poor farming economy prompted the family to move to Glendale, Arizona, where Johno Bacon’s parents lived. Nicky Bacon grew up driving tractors and picking cotton on the ranch where his father worked. He dropped out of Peoria High School to work full-time to support the family when his father contracted polio, although he later earned a GED.
In 1963, at age 17, Bacon forged his mother’s signature to enlist in the Arizona National Guard. The next year, he joined the US Army, and after basic training at Fort Ord in California, he was stationed in Worms, Germany. Of his military service Bacon later said, “I was never prouder, I was never in better shape, I was never more sure that I stood for something in my life than I was when I wore the uniform.” He served his first tour of Vietnam in 1966 during which he was wounded three times. On his first mission in Vietnam, the helicopter he was riding in collided with another, killing everyone except Bacon and one other soldier.
Bacon volunteered to serve a second combat tour in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. He reached the rank of staff sergeant while serving with Company B, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 11th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. On August 26, 1968, while leading a squad in Bravo Company’s 1st Platoon, in an operation west of Tam Ky, he performed the actions which earnt him the Medal of Honor.
For his service in Vietnam and throughout his career, he also received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Heart medals (one awarded later in 2008 due to an administrative oversight) and numerous other awards and decorations.
Bacon requested a third tour of duty in Vietnam but was denied. He instead served as a recruiter at Fort Hood, Texas, was stationed in Giessen, Germany, and worked in the training command at Fort McClellan, Alabama, before retiring in June 1984 as a first sergeant.
In 1990, Bacon moved back to Arkansas and lived in the town of Rose Bud. He was appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs by Governor Jim Guy Tucker in April 1993 and served until his final retirement in February 2005. He later served as president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Chair Emeritus of the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security. Bacon was also inducted into the Military Police Hall of Fame at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In 2006, Bacon was honored by the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History with the Arsenal Award in recognition of his service to the nation and the State of Arkansas. Bacon died on the morning of July 17, 2010, after a long battle with cancer. He was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the state of Arkansas. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe referred to Bacon as an “American hero” and stated “He never wanted anything for himself, but always wanted to protect other people in uniform. Arkansas will miss him.”
S/Sgt. Bacon distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Company B, during an operation west of Tam Ky. When Company B came under fire from an enemy bunker line to the front, S/Sgt. Bacon quickly organized his men and led them forward in an assault. He advanced on a hostile bunker and destroyed it with grenades. As he did so, several fellow soldiers including the 1st Platoon leader, were struck by machine gun fire and fell wounded in an exposed position forward of the rest of the platoon. S/Sgt. Bacon immediately assumed command of the platoon and assaulted the hostile gun position, finally killing the enemy gun crew in a single-handed effort. When the 3d Platoon moved to S/Sgt. Bacon’s location, its leader was also wounded. Without hesitation S/Sgt. Bacon took charge of the additional platoon and continued the fight. In the ensuing action he personally killed 4 more enemy soldiers and silenced an antitank weapon. Under his leadership and example, the members of both platoons accepted his authority without question. Continuing to ignore the intense hostile fire, he climbed up on the exposed deck of a tank and directed fire into the enemy position while several wounded men were evacuated. As a result of S/Sgt. Bacon’s extraordinary efforts, his company was able to move forward, eliminate the enemy positions, and rescue the men trapped to the front.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARKANSAS STATE VETERANS CEMETERY, LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS.
CREMATED – ASHES INTERRED.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: MACARTHUR MUSEUM OF ARKANSAS MILITARY HISTORY, LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS.