Robert Joseph Pruden MOH

b. 09/09/1949 St Paul, Minnesota. d. 29/11/1969 Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 29/11/1969 Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam.

Robert J Pruden MOH

Pruden was born September 9, 1949, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was the second son to Lawrence and Marlys Pruden, who went on to have 11 more kids – four more boys and seven girls. As one of the elder children, Pruden helped out around the house, but he also had time to enjoy life, playing baseball, football and hockey.

Not long after Pruden graduated from Harding High School in 1967, he joined the Army. He went on to complete Ranger school and joined the Rangers of the 75th Infantry Regiment. His unit, Company G, was sent to Vietnam in early February 1969.

On November 29, 1969, Pruden, a reconnaissance team leader, was on duty in the Quang Ngai Province of South Vietnam. His six-man team had been inserted by helicopter into Viet Cong-controlled territory. Their mission was to gain intelligence on enemy movements and set up an ambush position.

When they reached the area in which they were supposed to set up, Pruden divided his men into two groups on opposite sides of a well-used trail. As they began to set up their defensive positions, one of the team members who was out in the open suddenly got trapped by heavy enemy fire. Pruden, who quickly realized their ambush position had been compromised, directed his team to fire back. As soon as they did, they were hit with heavy fire from a second enemy position.

Pruden quickly jumped out of hiding and fired back. He ran toward the enemy, hoping to draw their fire away from his men. Pruden was wounded twice, but he continued attacking until he fell for a third time in front of the enemy’s position. The few moments the 20-year-old had left to live were spent directing his men into defensive positions and calling for evacuation helicopters, which safely withdrew his soldiers. Pruden died that day, but his actions took out several Viet Cong soldiers and led to the enemy’s withdrawal.

Pruden’s body was returned home and buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. On April 22, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon presented the Medal of Honor to Pruden’s entire family during a White House ceremony. Two other fallen soldiers, Army Sgt. Rodney Evans and Army Spc. Michael Blanchfield, also received the high honor that day.

In 1992, Pruden was inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame, the first year it was established. His unit, now known as the 75th Ranger Regiment, holds a tactical field skills competition every year called the Pruden Competition.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Pruden, Company G, distinguished himself while serving as a reconnaissance team leader during an ambush mission. The six-man team was inserted by helicopter into enemy-controlled territory to establish an ambush position and to obtain information concerning enemy movements. As the team moved into the preplanned area, S/Sgt. Pruden deployed his men into two groups on the opposite sides of a well-used trail. As the groups were establishing their defensive positions, one member of the team was trapped in the open by the heavy fire from an enemy squad. Realizing that the ambush position had been compromised, S/Sgt. Pruden directed his team to open fire on the enemy force. Immediately, the team came under heavy fire from a second enemy element. SSgt. Pruden, with full knowledge of the extreme danger involved, left his concealed position and, firing as he ran, advanced toward the enemy to draw the hostile fire. He was seriously wounded twice but continued his attack until he fell for a third time, in front of the enemy positions. S/Sgt. Pruden’s actions resulted in several enemy casualties and withdrawal of the remaining enemy force. Although grievously wounded, he directed his men into defensive positions and called for evacuation helicopters, which safely withdrew the members of the team. S/Sgt. Pruden’s outstanding courage, selfless concern for the welfare of his men, and intrepidity in action at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.