Lawrence Joel was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina back in 1928 the third of 16 children (busy parents) because of the large family he was raised by a neighboring family the Samuels. He attended Atkins High School and afterwards joined the Merchant Marines for one year in 1946. The next year he joined the United States Army in New York City, planning to make it a career.
By 1965 then-Specialist Five Lawrence and his battalion of paratroopers were sent on a patrol for Viet Cong near Bien Hoa, classified as warzone “D” in the heart of Vietnam. It was during this that his battalion found themselves surrounded and a battel ensued that lasted for twenty-four hours. Almost all the troops were either killed or wounded. Lawrence himself was shot twice however, what he did is nothing short of extraordinary. For you see he was a medic, after being ordered to take cover he defied those orders and attended to the wounded. His medical supplies were depleted in short order however, he continued to administer aid not only to his troops but to a nearby company as well. After being wounded he made a crutch and hobbled around the battlefield.
He was awarded the Silver Star, The Purple Heart and off course the Medal of Honor. I would copy the citation for the Medal of Honor however, it is so long I ask if you’re interested please look it up, it is interesting reading.
So why did I pick Lawrence Joel you may be asking? I’m so glad you did and now for the rest of the story. for you see Lawrence was an African-American. He was the first medic to earn the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam conflict and the first living black American to receive the medal since the Spanish-American War in 1898. On April 8th, 1967 the city of Winston-Salem held a parade in the honor, it was the first time the city had ever held a military parade to recognize a single individual.
So many great American’s to write about so little time. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did writing about it. Until tomorrow take care and “”GOD BLESSS OUR TROOPS.”