"It's the award given to America's bravest heroes who earn our freedom with their sacrifice."
On Monday, October 23, President Donald Trump draped the Medal of Honor around the neck of retired Army Capt. Gary M. Rose in a ceremony at the White House. The medal, in all its shiny glory, symbolized all of the sacrifices and heroism the now 69-year-old Rose exhibited as an Army medic throughout a four-day mission in Laos in 1970. But it also served as a valuable teaching experience for Rose’s grandchildren, Kaitlyn and Christian, who proudly watched Rose be honored on Monday.
As the two were reminded of their grandfather’s commitment and bravery, both on and off the battlefield, neither may have fully comprehended what it meant for their grandfather to receive the highest award for combat valor. For the curious siblings, they only knew that every Wednesday when they showed up to their grandparents house in Huntsville, Alabama, that their grandfather and grandmother were always there to help them during "homework night." President Trump, however, was there to give the boy and girl a history lesson on what the Medal of Honor truly represents, and to inform them of how their grandfather aided wounded comrades and lifted them to safety during Vietnam.
President Trump also joked at the ceremony that watching the honor be bestowed upon their grandfather must’ve been Kaitlyn and Christian’s "best homework assignment yet."
According to a citation read by a military aide at the White House, which outlined Rose’s courageous acts during the covert operation, Rose was the only medic on hand to assist the 136 men tasked with holding off enemy assault by the North Vietnamese. Of the 136 men, Rose ended up treating more than 60 wounded soldiers.
"Mike [Rose’s middle name] rescued those in distress without any thought for his own safety," Trump explained. "In every action during those four days, Mike valiantly fought for the life of his comrades, even if it meant the end of his own life."
Some of those actions, Trump recounted, included Rose barely escaping a helicopter crash, all the while ducking rapid gunfire, saving a wounded Marine, and using his body as a shield for another injured soldier on the ground.
Trump went on to say that Rose is a "patriot who never gives up, never gives in, and always stands strong for God, for family, and for country."
After serving almost two decades in the Army and working in his post-military career as an industrial designer, Rose has so many accomplishments to boast about. But when reporters asked Rose—who volunteers at soup kitchens, donates hair to cancer patients, and fixes appliances for his elderly neighbors in his spare time—how it felt to be a Medal of Honor recipient, he was nothing but modest.
"This is our medal, not mine," Rose said. "We all earned it," with Rose adding that the medal "belonged to all of his comrades, not just to him alone."
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Retired Army Capt. Gary M. Rose was raised in Watertown, New York, but now resides in Huntsville, Alabama. He is the second person to receive the Medal of Honor from President Trump.