Throughout the month of November, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service will be hosting a live, twice-weekly “Chief Chat” with Medal of Honor recipients and a Coast Guard Silver Lifesaving medal recipient.
Broadcasted from the Exchange’s Facebook page, the chats, hosted by Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin “KO” Osby, serve to recognize the valor of American service members in honor of this year’s upcoming Veterans Day.
Guests of this month’s “Chief Chat” include:
—On Nov. 5, at 11 a.m. EST, (chat still available on the Exchange’s Facebook page), Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs. Jacobs was awarded the MoH for actions in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam in 1969. Despite being wounded by mortar fragments and bleeding profusely from his head, which impaired his vision, “Capt. Jacobs, with complete disregard for his safety,” reads his citation, “returned under intense fire to evacuate a seriously wounded adviser to the safety of a wooded area where he administered lifesaving first aid. He then returned through heavy automatic weapons fire to evacuate the wounded company commander. Capt. Jacobs made repeated trips across the fire-swept open rice paddies evacuating wounded and their weapons. On three separate occasions, Capt. Jacobs contacted and drove off Viet Cong squads who were searching for allied wounded and weapons, single-handedly killing three and wounding several others.” After serving in the Army for 21 years, Jacobs retired in 1987. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Jacobs was awarded two Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts.
—On Nov. 12, at 11 a.m. EST, Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg. Groberg received the Medal of Honor in 2015 for his 2012 actions in Kunar province, Afghanistan. After identifying a suicide vest on an individual, Groberg “with complete disregard for his life….physically pushed the suicide bomber away from the formation. Upon falling, the suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside the perimeter of the formation,” reads his citation. The incident left Groberg with life-threatening injuries that kept him hospitalized for nearly three years. The Army captain is credited with saving several lives within his unit.
—On Nov. 17, at 11 a.m. EST, Silver Lifesaving medal recipient Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Victoria Vanderhaden and her father, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden. Victoria Vanderhaden is credited with rescuing two stranded swimmers off Fire Island, N.Y. in 2018. She is only the second female Coast Guard member to receive the award.
—On Nov. 19, at 11 a.m. EST, Medal of Honor recipient retired Marine Corps Warrant Officer Hershel “Woody” Williams. Williams, the last surviving MoH recipient from the Pacific War, received the military’s highest honor after single-handedly taking out Japanese-held pillboxes during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Williams, his citation reads, “[Williams] fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another.”
—On Nov. 24, at 11 a.m. EST, Medal of Honor recipients retired Army Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell and retired Sgt. Gary Beikirch, who received their Medals of Honor in the same 1973 battle, just days apart. According to his citation, Littrell “exhibited near superhuman endurance as he singlehandedly bolstered the besieged battalion. Repeatedly abandoning positions of relative safety, he directed artillery and air support by day and marked the unit’s location by night, despite the heavy, concentrated enemy fire. His dauntless will instilled in the men of the 23d Battalion a deep desire to resist.” Days later, Beikirch, a Green Beret medic, continuously risked life and limb under heavy fire to treat injured comrades. Despite being injured twice from exploding mortar fragments, Beikirch “refused treatment and continued his search for other casualties until he collapsed. Only then did he permit himself to be treated.”
The Exchange’s full Veterans day schedule can be viewed here.