The Vietnam War was one gnarly and divisive chapter in America's history. As tensions boiled over at home, men battled in the jungle trenches where valor and duty often went unnoticed. But the legend of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez stands out - when hellfire rained down in a brutal battle, this badass went full beast mode and single-handedly saved the day, despite being shot to shreds. His insane heroics earned him the Medal of Honor, America's top award for military badassery.
Born in Cuero, Texas in 1935, Roy Benavidez came from humble beginnings. His father was a Mexican farmer and his mother was Yaqui Indian. When his mom died, his father remarried a cruel woman who beat young Roy relentlessly. At age 15, he'd had enough and fled home, dropping out of school in 7th grade and working odd jobs. As a skinny homeless kid, he seemed an unlikely future war hero.
Yet at 17, Roy joined the Texas National Guard, putting him on the path to his fateful day of glory. After basic training he enlisted in the regular Army, married his high school sweetheart, and was shipped off to a year in Korea in 1957. After this first tour, Roy considered leaving the service - but in a decision that would alter history, he chose to stay and join the elite Green Berets special forces.
Despite his lack of education, Sergeant Benavidez excelled in training. Joining the tight-knit Green Berets brotherhood gave him a new sense of purpose. In 1965 he deployed to South Vietnam as a military advisor at the dawn of major U.S. involvement in the war.
Fast forward to May 2, 1968. Benavidez was part of a 12-man Special Forces A-Team supporting a company of South Vietnamese troops. They were on a secret mission near the Cambodian border when all hell broke loose. Thousands of North Vietnamese troops ambushed the base, unleashing heavy small arms fire, mortars, and RPGs.
Caught off guard, the team scrambled to evacuate the wounded as Benavidez rushed back into withering fire multiple times to rescue injured comrades. Armed only with a bowie knife and medical bag, he fought back waves of attackers while calling in dangerously close air strikes. Flaming shrapnel tore into his face and body, yet he kept going.
When choppers arrived for the wounded, Roy carried and loaded men under intense fire. But as a full helicopter was lifting off, he spotted two South Vietnamese soldiers still on the ground and sprinted back to pull them aboard - just as a VC bullet took out the pilot.
The helicopter swirled out of control and exploded into flames as it crashed. Once again ignoring his own mangled body, Benavidez pulled the surviving wounded from the fiery wreckage and transported them to relative safety before enemy troops closed in.
But this maniac still wasn't done. After handing off casualties, he gathered ammo from the dead and dove back into the defense, directing air support via smoke signals. Even critically wounded, he rallied the men until reinforcement gunships finally arrived after nearly 12 grueling hours of battle.
Bleeding out and barely conscious, Benavidez was pulled aboard the last chopper out by his comrades just before enemy troops overran the base. Doctors were convinced he wouldn't make it, as he'd been shot or stabbed over 30 times and had grenade shrapnel lodged in his back and head. He spent a year in hospitals undergoing intense surgery and recovery.
For his superhuman efforts, President Nixon awarded Roy the Medal of Honor in 1973. But humble as ever, he downplayed his actions. To him, he was just doing his sworn duty to comrades as any Green Beret would.
This unbelievable saga resonated nationwide. Despite prejudice for his Mexican heritage, Roy's commitment and willingness to sacrifice himself for others exemplified the ideals of honor and brotherhood that America aspires to in its finest moments.
His youth may have been tragic, but Sergeant Benavidez's inhuman courage and resilience that day in Vietnam lives on as one of history's greatest testaments to the human capacity for heroism. Through willpower and love for his fellow servicemen, this seventh grade dropout and homeless runaway rose in the crucible of war to become one the greatest American heroes who ever lived. That kind of glory can never diminish.