This Memorial Day weekend, I dedicate this article to all of the military heroes: those who live among us and those who have died. My heartfelt thank you for the sacrifices they made to keep us all free. They and their families truly walk in Christ’s footsteps.
As a new resident of Nokomis in the community of Sorrento East, I am honored to live among active and retired military service men and women. I recently learned of the heroism and exceptional service of many of my neighbors. One of these is Randy McConnell, who lives in Nokomis with his wife, Becky.
In an online article published by Don Moore, I learned that Randy served as a Sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division known as the “Screaming Eagles,” an elite modular specialized light infantry division of the United States Army, trained for air assault operations. For his actions under fire in battle, Randy received seven Purple Heart Awards, more than any other living American soldier! And what’s even more amazing is that these were awarded to him for fighting in Vietnam during a period of six months!
In the harrowing months Randy served for two years, 1967 and 1968, fighting with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam during the infamous “Tết Offensive,” Randy also received two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor, along with an Army Commendation Medal with a V-Device for valor.
For those too young to remember this intense engagement with the enemy, it was one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War. The first surprise attacks launched by the North Vietnamese against the South, the United States and our allies, took place on the Vietnamese New Year, known as their “Tết” holiday. Intense fighting continued for many months, resulting in the defeat of the North Vietnamese.
To read more details about Randy’s heroic actions in combat, look up Don Moore’s article at: https://donmooreswartales.com/2015/05/13/randy-mcconnell/. Maneuvering under enemy fire, knocking out enemy bunkers with rifles and grenades, and retrieving the bodies of his fallen brothers, Randy and his men earned a reputation for getting the job done. Randy was wounded multiple times by gunfire and shrapnel, sustaining serious injuries to his neck, his Achilles tendon and ankle.
In Randy’s recounting of the ordeal, our hero returned to the United States with pride, only to be met with the derision of those protesting the war as a result of the political in-fighting and prevailing lack of public support for the war and our military. When asked what his military service and awards mean to him, Randy says: “My military service, though only two years, had profound effect on my entire adult life. It reminds me that freedom is NOT free. I wear my military decorations for those who gave all protecting this country. Veterans represent the best this country has to offer and I am honored to be included in their ranks.”
Personally, I am proud to live in a community where our military heroes are honored and appreciated for their service to our country because without their deeds of valor and courage, we would not be free to enjoy life in this extraordinary state of Florida in the USA. Randy, thank you for your service to our country.