Brian Thacker was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during the Vietnam War. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
This article by Tim Kirkpatrick was originally published on We Are The Mighty.
Born into an Air Force family, Brian Thacker received his officer commission through the ROTC program before shipping out to the deadly landscape of Vietnam in the fall of 1970.
During the springtime of the following year, Thacker led a 6-man observation team from a hilltop in the in Kon Tum Province, called Firebase 6.
Their mission was to support a South Vietnamese artillery unit. After weeks of little to no enemy contact, the enemy finally decided to attack.
As incoming fire rained down onto the firebase, Thacker noticed the enemy was attempting to knock out a crucial machine gun position that was holding them at bay.
The attack grew, the machine gun fell, and the firebase’s perimeter was starting to break down. Thacker realized the enemy’s objective was to obtain the South Vietnamese artillery shell supply.
As the small allied force was being overrun, Thacker organized an extraction plan and had his team dismantle the artillery shells. They were not going to give up their weaponry.
Huey helicopters came in hot to support Thacker’s team, but two were shot down due to well-placed enemy anti-aircraft weapons.
As enemy fire continue to bombard the base, Thacker allowed his men to proceed to the extraction point while he remained behind. He continued to coordinate defenses, eventually calling friendly artillery to strike his position.
The allied barrage purchased his men more time to withdraw — saving their lives.
Alone and cut-off, Thacker carefully maneuvered away from the base to an area he felt the enemy wouldn’t check, but close enough to keep a watchful eye on the firebase.
Now concealed in an area thickly blanketed in bamboo, North Vietnamese troops established another anti-aircraft gun within earshot of Thacker’s position, where he remained for the next 8 days without food or water.
More than a week later, allied forces started retaking the area. Thacker, weakened, painfully crawled out of his bamboo cover and was soon evacuated to a nearby hospital.
On Oct. 15, 1973, President Richard Nixon presented him with the Medal of Honor.
Check out the Medal of Honor Book video above to hear this heroic story from the legend himself.
Read Next: A Soldier & His Harmonica: Vietnam War Medal of Honor Recipient Sammy Davis
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For more than 150 years, the Medal of Honor has been used to recognize acts of extraordinary battlefield courage performed in service to the United States.
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