Back on May 13, 1968, it was another day at work for Specialist Four Patrick M. Malone, RA18807702 United States Army. He was serving as chief of a search-light crew at the compound of Rach Kien, Viet Nam, when it came under enemy mortar attack. I won’t pretend to understand what was going on that day but it involved a lot of mortar fire and Patrick was the brave man that due to some lighting malfunctions, ran back and forth from the ammunition point to an M42A1. Not really knowing what that even is, I did a little research and learned that it is a “self-propelled anti-aircraft gun.” Most of us without military experience probably call them tanks. I think that basically what was going on was that no one could see anything and didn’t know exactly where the enemy was. In the chaos that ensured, there was a break in the firing for a few seconds and Patrick heard hysterical cries coming from a nearby bunker. He ran to investigate and found a young Vietnamese girl who screamed that she had seen Viet Cong advancing on their perimeter. Leaving the safety of the bunker he immediately placed accurate machine gun fire where she indicated, which was indeed on the enemy location, saving the entire crew and young girl. Sadly, an enemy mortar landed close to this Specialist Four and although he lived, he was severely wounded in the back, arm, and legs. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and earned him the Award of the Silver Star.
I really can’t tell you any more about this Silver Star recipient. Like many Viet Nam vets, he came home and has lived quietly, without fanfare. For sure he is a true hero.
There is another hero in this story and that is a guy named Richard (Dick) Gregson. Dick apparently came upon the Silver Star medal and after a lot of research located Patrick Malone. Dick brought it to me for framing and plans to present it to the true recipient, Specialist Four Patrick M. Malone. It’s people like Pat Malone that help keep our country free and it’s people like Dick Gregson that help us all remember and appreciate that gallantry in action.