As the front door to freedom, Fort Bragg and its surrounding areas have seen their fair share of heroes, including those awarded for their valor in action. Three of the nation’s Medal of Honor recipients shared their stories with members of the Fayetteville community during a Medal of Honor Social at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, Nov. 2.
The event began with a greeting and invocation from George Breece, Director Emeritus, Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. Miss North Carolina Victoria Huggins led the audience in the National Anthem before the open question and answer session began.
The three members of the panel introduced themselves and gave a short biography before answering audience questions.
Retired Col. Walter Marm, Jr. received the Medal of Honor in 1966 for reducing enemy fire on his platoon, breaking the enemy assault and rallying his unit during a battle in Vietnam.
“I was wounded on the first day of battle and it kind of ruined my day,” Marm laughed when explaining his backstory.
He was shot in the jaw, and had it wired shut for months after reconstructive surgery. Marm remained in the Army for 30 years, even going back to Vietnam for a second tour, something he said many Medal of Honor recipients are not allowed to do.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Patterson received the Medal of Honor in 1969 for single-handedly destroying five enemy bunkers, killing eight enemy soldiers and capturing seven weapons during the Vietnam War.
Patterson, who grew up in Fayetteville, said the Medal of Honor changed a lot in his life.
“It makes you more aware of things,” he said, explaining how he couldn’t go down to Hay Street on pay day with all of his friends because of the area’s reputation. He retired in 1992 after 26 years on active duty.
Retired Col. Gordon Roberts received the Medal of Honor in 1971 for saving the lives of his comrades by independently assaulting several enemy bunkers to save the lives of his platoon during a Vietnam War battle.
Roberts, the son of a World War II paratrooper, described the three most important moments of his life in the Army: earning his jump wings, going to Vietnam and being assigned to his father’s unit, and making his first jump with the 44th Medical Brigade at Fort Bragg.
All three men said the Medal of Honor shaped their leadership philosophies for the rest of their lives.
“We have to set the example and do the best we can in everything we do,” said Marm.