SGT Richard Penry at FSB Nancy. Image courtesy of Bill Hartman, C/4-12
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Richard Allen Penry, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman with Company C, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Brigade, in action against enemy aggressor forces during a night ambush mission in Binh Tuy Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 31 January 1970. As the platoon was preparing the ambush position, it suddenly came under an intense enemy attack from mortar, rocket, and automatic weapons fire which seriously wounded the company commander and most of the platoon members, leaving small isolated groups of wounded men throughout the area. Sergeant Penry, seeing the extreme seriousness of the situation, worked his way through the deadly enemy fire to the company command post where he administered first aid to the wounded company commander and other personnel. He then moved the command post to a position which provided greater protection and visual communication and control of other platoon elements. Realizing the company radio was damaged and recognizing the urgent necessity to reestablish communications with the battalion headquarters, he ran outside the defensive perimeter through a fusillade of hostile fire to retrieve a radio. Finding it inoperable, Sergeant Penry returned through heavy fire to retrieve two more radios. Turning his attention to the defense of the area, he crawled to the edge of the perimeter, retrieved needed ammunition and weapons and re-supplied the wounded men. During a determined assault by over 30 enemy soldiers, Sergeant Penry occupied the most vulnerable forward position placing heavy, accurate fire on the attacking enemy and exposing himself several times to throw hand grenades into the advancing enemy troops. He succeeded virtually single-handedly in stopping the attack. Learning that none of the radios were operable, Sergeant Penry again crawled outside the defensive perimeter, retrieved a fourth radio and established communications with higher headquarters. Sergeant Penry then continued to administer first aid to the wounded and repositioned them to better repel further enemy attacks. Despite continuous and deadly sniper fire, he again left the defensive perimeter, moved to within a few feet of enemy positions, located five isolated wounded soldiers, and led them to safety. When evacuation helicopters approached, Sergeant Penry voluntarily left the perimeter, set up a guiding beacon, established the priorities for evacuation and successively carried 18 wounded men to the extraction site. After all wounded personnel had been evacuated, Sergeant Penry joined another platoon and assisted in the pursuit of the enemy. Sergeant Penry's extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Department of the Army, General Orders No. 40 (July 23, 1971)
Action Date: 31-Jan-70
Company: Company C
Battalion: 4th Battalion
Regiment: 12th Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Brigade