In the book Legend, Erich Blehm tells the story of someone who truly embodies the definition of the term “hero”. Legend takes place during a battle in Cambodia on May 2, 1968 with U.S. Army special forces and the NVA forces. It was a part of the Viet Nam war that no one in the government wanted to get out. It was the reason why Sgt. Ray Benevides was denied a Congressional Medal of Honor.
My father served in Viet Nam in 1966 and 1967. He was part of the regular Army. He was not Special Forces. But that war left the same stain on his psyche as it did for so many of those who served. This was not a war that was popular and veterans of this war were not accepted easily.
Roy Benevides was a boy in El Campo, Texas. He worked in the fields and had a tough childhood. He eventually joined the Army. His first tour in Viet Nam, he stepped on a land mine and due to a malfunction was only seriously wounded instead of gravely injured. He suffered a serious concussion and a spinal cord injury. Refusing to believe that he would never walk again, Roy, rolled himself out of bed every night and forced himself to stand. He was soon walking again. He then decided to become a Green Beret. He was then sent back to Viet Nam. He was not part of the SOG group that deployed on May 2, 1968.
The team was deployed to hijack a truck in Cambodia, drive it into Viet Nam and prove that the North Vietnamese were getting material support from China and Russia, through a neutral country. What they didn’t know what that they were dropped in the jungle almost on top of the NVA headquarters. Pretty soon, a very small number of men were surrounded by an unending supply of NVA soldiers who were attacking. The men fought off the attackers and called for an extraction. The first helicopter crashed.
Another helicopter was about to leave to aid in the rescue when Benavides jumped in with his medical bag. Though the landing zone was too hot – too much enemy fire – to extract the troops, Benevides jumped out of the helicopter to help. It was through his calm under fire and his bravery that the men were eventually extracted.
Benevides survived (though he was initially mistaken for dead and was put into a body bag) and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Many who knew his story thought he deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor, which he was eventually awarded by President Reagan.
This book was amazing. I have read almost everything that Eric Blehm has written and he tells a fantastic story – no matter what story he tells. This book brought home the horror of combat. It also gives a glimpse into a brotherhood of soldiers who came home to no appreciation or support. It also gave me an idea of what the war was like for my father, who served, but does not speak about it.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Viet Nam and military history or just wants to read a good story. I received this book from Blogging for Books and received no other compensation for my review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.