Southern Nevada resident and former Army Sgt. Richard “Dick” L. Moyer was presented with a Bronze Star Medal with a “V” for valor this month for his heroic efforts during the Vietnam War.
The combat took place in 1968. But because of closed files and other missing paperwork, it took all these years for Moyer’s actions to be officially recognized. The medal was presented to Moyer in Carson City, during the biannual Veterans and Military Day at the Legislature. Gen. William L. Burks, the adjutant general for the Nevada National Guard, initially introduced Moyer and described how the situation developed in Vietnam.
“It is a great honor to be recognizing a veteran, whose love of country, bravery and selflessness is such that it is awarded with a medal of distinction more than 30 years later,” Burks began.
The general described how in November 1968, Army Spc. Moyer was assigned to protect an area that was coming under attack by a platoon-size element of combined Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army regulars. Although he was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade, he exposed his position by helping to remove others in his unit who sustained more serious wounds from enemy fire. Moyer continued to return fire until additional U.S. forces arrived. Seven U.S. soldiers were seriously wounded, but Moyer and two others stayed to provide cover. Kat Miller, director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, read the exact description from the official proclamation signed by the Secretary of the Army, which, in part, noted that “Specialist Moyer’s dedication under fire are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, the 199th Infantry Brigade and the United States Army.”
After the ceremony, during which he was awarded the medal by Burks, Miller, Veterans Service Commissioner Bill Baumann and Gov. Brian Sandoval, asked Moyer for a few more details. Being a Vietnam veteran myself, I could imagine how the fighting might have gone down in the midst of the nighttime jungle, but I wanted to hear his words.
As the fighting began, he spotted two of his men who had been wounded. Surprised by a large contingent of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars, he exposed his position and dragged the two to safety. Several others were wounded, including Moyer, but he grabbed a machine gun, started screaming, and put out a blistering barrage before help arrived.
“We put six wounded, and piled equipment, on one chopper. The second chopper came back in and got a couple of other guys, and it brought in a reaction force,” Moyer said.
He said that the force included two sergeants who were on their last mission. They were short-timers in G.I. vernacular.
“They were going home. They were short. But the three of us stayed behind and went with the reaction force and swept through that whole area.” The men viewed what he said were many blood trails left by the Viet Cong. But there were no enemies left behind. “They were famous for pulling their bodies away.”
Moyer noted that he was probably the least hurt of all the wounded soldiers. He observed that some of the men were seriously injured, including those he had personally helped. “But we all made it home,” he proudly stated. By all accounts, it was Moyer’s actions that greatly contributed to the men being safely evacuated.
Also honored in Carson City was Marine veteran John Louritt, the March veteran of the month. Miller explained that the Nevada Veteran of the Month Program recognizes former servicemen and women throughout the state who go above and beyond the call of duty in support of veterans and the military and the community through volunteerism.
“It’s an opportunity for all of us to shine a bright light on the work veterans continue to do for our nation once they leave service,” she said.
The state’s Veterans Service Commission assists in the selection of the monthly honorees. Louritt volunteers for a number of nonprofit organizations, and is active in assisting veterans meet with veterans service officers to file claims and seek benefits they may be entitled to.
Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.