Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

Mr. Speaker, Master Sergeant Roy Benavides was born in south Texas on a ranch on August 5, 1935. He was a sharecropper's son, and he barely knew his parents. He was orphaned when he was young, and he and his brother went to live with an uncle in El Campo, Texas.

Roy was a quiet kid and spent most of his time in the sugar cane and cotton fields of south Texas working. He only finished the eighth grade, and his classmates made fun of him because of the way he talked. He joined the Army at the age of 19 and became an Army of One. On his first combat tour in Vietnam, he stepped on a land mine. Doctors were not sure he would be able to keep his leg, but he recovered and went on to become one of those legendary Green Berets.

During his second tour in Vietnam, in the early morning hours of May 2, 1968, Roy Benavides was monitoring a radio, listening to a 12-man unit on patrol. Three Green Berets and nine Montagnard tribesmen were dropped off into the dark, dense jungle west of Lok Nenh, Vietnam. The jungle they were dropped in was infested with the substantial force of the well-trained North Vietnamese Army. As quickly as they disembarked the Army helicopter, the American unit was surrounded by a large force of Vietnamese regulars. It was immediately clear to them that the mission had been given incorrect intelligence on the strength of the enemy. Three helicopters were ordered to evacuate the overrun and overwhelmed American troops. Due to intense enemy fire, the choppers could not rescue those Americans.

All the while, Sergeant Benavides was monitoring the operation by radio. When Roy heard one of his soldiers scream, ``Get us out of here,'' he jumped onto another helicopter and volunteered for a second evacuation attempt. When he arrived under fire at the shocking scene, four Americans were already dead; eight others were wounded and unable to move.

Carrying a knife and a medic bag, Benavides left from the helicopter that was hovering 10 feet above the ground. He ran 70 yards under small arms fire to his injured and crippled troopers. Before he could get to them, he was shot in the leg, the face and the head, but he took charge and kept moving.

He tended to the injured. He threw out smoke canisters to facilitate the landing of helicopters and dragged the injured and dead aboard. Dodging bullets from the enemy, he ran in to find the dead team leader to recover his body and the classified documents he had on him.

It was in this attempt where he was severely wounded again. He succeeded in getting the classified documents, but he was shot in the stomach and grenade fragments blasted into his back. At the same time, the hovering helicopter pilot was fatally wounded, and the helicopter crashed.

Even wounded, Sergeant Benavides helped the other wounded escape from the burning wreckage. He called in air strikes with the hope of suppressing the enemy and allowing for a third evacuation.

In critical condition, he supplied water and ammunition to his wounded troopers. His unconquerable spirit kept him going, and he inspired the wounded to stay strong and fight. And they did, for 6 more hours against vicious enemy fire.

When another helicopter eventually landed, he assisted in loading the wounded. On the second trip to this copter, he was bayoneted and received additional wounds in his head and arms. He was out of ammo. Master Sergeant Benavides had to fight assailants with his bare hands.

He finished the job of loading his buddies and killed two more enemy soldiers who were attempting to rush the aircraft. After grabbing the last remaining classified documents, Master Sergeant Benavides allowed himself on the helicopter where he collapsed, and those abroad presumed him to be dead.

He risked his life for hours, and because of his courage and refusal to be stopped, he succeeded in saving the lives of eight of his troopers.

Keeping with the American m