Aug 21 , 2021
Medal of Honor recipient Joe Ronnie Hooper just couldn’t stay out of trouble in the Army in his earlier years. Multiple article 15 hearings, including a demotion to corporal.
For his service in Vietnam, aside from his MOH, the U.S. Army awarded Hooper two Silver Stars, six Bronze Stars, eight Purple Hearts, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Vietnam Service Medal with six campaign stars, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He is credited with 115 enemy killed in ground combat, 22 of which occurred on February 21, 1968. He became one of the most-decorated soldiers in the Vietnam War, and was one of three soldiers wounded in action eight times in the war.
I want you to take a minute to read those again, take the time to google a few of his citations and exactly what this man did with absolute disregard for his own life to take care of the task at hand. That’s one of the most insane lists of commendations and awards I’ve ever seen.
A Medal of Honor
Two silver stars
Six bronze stars
He was shot or blown up on EIGHT separate occasions
But flashback to his days on post. He was “nothing but a drunk”, almost “a failure to adapt”.
Moral of the story: being a disruptive troublemaker doesn’t mean you’re not capable of greatness, in fact, it often paves the way.
Sadly, Joe died a horrible alcoholic death at the age of 40. Because of men like him, who lost the war after the war, we're supporting organizations like FlandersFields who exist to end alcoholism, addiction, and homelessness in the veteran community. If you or someone you love needs help, reach out TODAY!
Here's his MOH Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Staff Sergeant (then Sgt.) Hooper, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as squad leader with Company D. Company D was assaulting a heavily defended enemy position along a river bank when it encountered a withering hail of fire from rockets, machine guns and automatic weapons. S/Sgt. Hooper rallied several men and stormed across the river, overrunning several bunkers on the opposite shore. Thus inspired, the rest of the company moved to the attack. With utter disregard for his own safety, he moved out under the intense fire again and pulled back the wounded, moving them to safety. During this act S/Sgt. Hooper was seriously wounded, but he refused medical aid and returned to his men. With the relentless enemy fire disrupting the attack, he single-handedly stormed 3 enemy bunkers, destroying them with hand grenade and rifle fire, and shot 2 enemy soldiers who had attacked and wounded the Chaplain. Leading his men forward in a sweep of the area, S/Sgt. Hooper destroyed 3 buildings housing enemy riflemen. At this point he was attacked by a North Vietnamese officer whom he fatally wounded with his bayonet. Finding his men under heavy fire from a house to the front, he proceeded alone to the building, killing its occupants with rifle fire and grenades. By now his initial body wound had been compounded by grenade fragments, yet despite the multiple wounds and loss of blood, he continued to lead his men against the intense enemy fire. As his squad reached the final line of enemy resistance, it received devastating fire from 4 bunkers in line on its left flank. S/Sgt. Hooper gathered several hand grenades and raced down a small trench which ran the length of the bunker line, tossing grenades into each bunker as he passed by, killing all but 2 of the occupants. With these positions destroyed, he concentrated on the last bunkers facing his men, destroying the first with an incendiary grenade and neutralizing 2 more by rifle fire. He then raced across an open field, still under enemy fire, to rescue a wounded man who was trapped in a trench. Upon reaching the man, he was faced by an armed enemy soldier whom he killed with a pistol. Moving his comrade to safety and returning to his men, he neutralized the final pocket of enemy resistance by fatally wounding 3 North Vietnamese officers with rifle fire. S/Sgt. Hooper then established a final line and reorganized his men, not accepting treatment until this was accomplished and not consenting to evacuation until the following morning. His supreme valor, inspiring leadership and heroic self-sacrifice were directly responsible for the company's success and provided a lasting example in personal courage for every man on the field. S/Sgt. Hooper's actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.