Valor for the Anonymous Battle

Almost 40 years after leading his men in and out of a daring rescue mission in the dense jungles of Vietnam, a Houston businessman has succeeded in obtaining for them the nation’s highest group award for military valor. He hopes it will be presented by the President soon. Pat Hernandez has the story.

John Poindexter was an Army captain during the Vietnam war. On March 26, 1970, he led his men of Troop A of the 11th Armored Cavalry to aid soldiers of a trapped Infantry company that had come under heavy enemy fire.

“Our troop, which had had a hideous accident the night before, in which, a mortar round exploded, and we had three men killed and a number dusted off, rallied the injured company on our backs. We mounted up and we moved out to relieve the surrounded company.”

The Anonymous BattleAided by airpower the rescue effort succeeded. Poindexter eventually hung up his uniform, moved back to Houston and became a successful businessman. 33 years later he came across a book that detailed a rescue mission and battle that he led. He also learned that of the men under his command who he had requested medals for, few were recognized for their actions. He then began to collect documentation for a Presidential Unit Citation. It’s the nation’s highest group award for military valor. Sitting in the downtown office of his diversified manufacturing empire, Poindexter says the effort took him back.

“I recognized in the process how much I owed those men literally, my life. I volunteered. I took us up there. I put us in that predicament and those men who were willing to fight for their country, who had not sought the role,  performed magnificently.”

Retired Staff Sergeant Pasqual Gutierrez recieved a silver star for his role in the battle. He says Capt. Poindexter has done a lot for the people who served under him.

“I think it’s very timely that this recognition come forth now, and for me, it’s a much bigger picture. The unit citation does go to the unit, as it rightly should. But for me the bigger picture is that this is a recognition for the entire Vietnam era veteran.”

George Hobson commanded the company that was rescued by Poindexter and his men.

“Very ordinary young men did extraordinary things under great pressure and performed their responsibilities militarily, and to their nation, with real distinction. And John Poindexter’s gaining of the recognition of that, for his unit, is a great contribution, not only to the healing process for all of us that were there, but particularly in pointing out how well the American soldier had served this country.”

Poindexter says he hopes President Obama presents the award at a White House ceremony this fall.

PH, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.