This Special Forces soldier gave his life to save his allies

Army Staff Sgt. Richard R. Arsenault was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for valorous actions taken only two weeks apart in Vietnam.

The action that netted him the Distinguished Service Cross ended in his tragic death.

Arsenault was assigned to Advisory Team 43 supporting Republic of Vietnam forces opposing the North Vietnamese Army. On May 12, 1972, he accompanied a Vietnamese Regional Force unit in a combat operation in the Hua Nghia Province. Arsenault not only went on the mission, but he volunteered to act as the radio operator.

US-Army-Ranger-Trains-Degar-vietnamese-vietnam-war

A U.S. Army Ranger and military advisor trains Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The radio operator is a high-value target for an enemy force. The antennas clearly point out who is carrying the system, and taking down a radio and its operator cuts the force off from certain battlefield tools like artillery and close air support.

Despite the risks, Arsenault carried the system into battle and maneuvered near the front under heavy concentrations of mortar, machine gun, small arms, and rocket fire, according to his Silver Star citation. Arsenault moved up with the senior American advisor to Vietnamese forces in the district and used his M16 to suppress enemy fire.

As the fight ground on, it become a closer and tighter affair until the two forces were within 40 yards of one another, throwing grenades and using pistols to try to gain the upper hand. When eight NVA soldiers tried to flank Arsenault’s element at close range, he took them out with hand grenades and his rifle.

Marines with Company G, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, direct a concentration of fire at the enemy during Operation Allen Brook, 8 May 1968. (Official Marine Corps Photo # 371490).

Marines with Company G, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, direct a concentration of fire at the enemy during Operation Allen Brook, 8 May 1968. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps).

The friendly Vietnamese forces were victorious, and Arsenault continued to work with them as a military advisor.

Exactly two weeks later, Arsenault and Army Capt. Ed Schwabe were accompanying 12th Regional Force Group soldiers as they searched out North Vietnamese soldiers in the province. The unit met light resistance from an enemy bunker, according to an excerpt from “Silence Was a Weapon: The Vietnam War in the Villages,” by Stuart Harrington.

Just a little later, Schwabe and Arsenault’s column was struck by a company-sized enemy ambush. Arsenault spotted the rocket being fired and tackled Schwabe to the ground while alerting others to the threat just before the rocket hit.

(Photo: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Wall of Faces. Submitted by Shirley Arsenault.)

Staff Sgt. Richard R. Arsenault gave his life to safe others in Vietnam in 1972.(Photo: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Wall of Faces. Submitted by Shirley Arsenault.)

The friendly forces were able to dart to limited cover in a nearby graveyard, saving the lives of the 12th Group command element and allowing them to devise a response to the ambush.

Unfortunately, while Arsenault had saved Schwabe’s life, Arsenault was killed by the first rocket and Schwabe was wounded and knocked unconscious.

Schwabe was pulled to safety by his interpreter and Arsenault was later posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions on May 12 and the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on May 26.

TOP ARTICLES
This is the new version of the pup tent

This is not your grandfather's pup tent. Litefighter has developed a complete shelter that troops can carry, weighing in just over four pounds.

This is why Saddam Hussein's fedayeen troops wore Darth Vader helmets

Wondering why Saddam's personal militia wore all-black suits and ski masks in the middle of the desert all year 'round? It was to match their helmets.

Here's how you can see 'Thank You For Your Service' for free

Universal Pictures and AMC Theatres announced that up to 10,000 free movie tickets will be available to U.S. veterans and active-duty service members.

This is SecState's plan to welcome Taliban into Afghan government

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there is a place for moderate elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan's government if they renounce terrorism.

President Trump opts out of a visit to Korea's DMZ

President Donald Trump is not planning to visit the border between North and South Korea known as the Demilitarized Zone when he visits Asia next month.

This is what John McCain thinks of the VA's Veterans CARE Act proposal

US Senator John McCain today applauded the Department of Veterans Affairs' proposed CARE Act, which bolsters the Veterans Choice Program.

This is the Russian super torpedo that could sink the US Navy

The Russian navy’s decline in major surface combatants and nuclear submarines is balanced by their advances in other areas, like this crazy-fast torpedo.

These are the heroic Marines that respond to plane crashes

The requirements to become a Marine Corps Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Specialist are mental and physical, and the training is intense.

That time a soldier grappled a suicide-bomber and lived

"It was either going to be me or 20 other people back there," Staff Sgt. Jason Fetty realized as he attacked the suicide-bomber moments before the blast.

This is why car bombs are a terrorist go-to

Responsible for two of the three deadliest terrorist attacks against Americans in history, car bombs are tailor made to mess with your mind.