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Medal of Honor recipient graces Military Appreciation events at Clemson University

Clemson University’s Army and Air Corps Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs were front and center as the school celebrated its rich heritage in the armed forces by hosting Military Appreciation Week from Monday, Oct. 28, through Saturday, Nov. 2. Each day featured at least one program or event designed to support, recognize or advocate for Clemson’s military community, culminating with the annual Military Appreciation Day football game on Saturday.

“Our goal for Military Appreciation Week is to recognize the service and contributions of our military service members and veterans, increase our advocacy and awareness in supporting them, and to celebrate them through programming and events,” said Brennan Beck, director of Clemson’s Office of Military & Veteran Engagement. “No matter their relationship to the military, everyone is welcome and stands to gain from participating in this important week.”

One of the highlights this year was the presence of Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, who spent three days at the school participating in events and speaking to students. Brady spoke to ROTC cadets, donated signed books to Clemson’s archives, and spoke to the National Champion Clemson Tigers football team after a practice. Head coach Dabo Swinney presented Brady with his own jersey (emblazoned with the number “5”) at the end of that program.

Brady received the nation’s highest award for valor for actions Near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam, January 6, 1968 as the pilot of a UH-1H ambulance helicopter, known as a “Dustoff,” attached to the 54th Medical Detachment. Over the course of many hours Brady utilized three helicopters to evacuate seriously wounded men, many of whom would have died without prompt medical treatment. On two occasions, his aircrafts were hit by enemy fire, and were damaged by an exploding mine on a third. Two crewmembers were wounded and by nightfall his three aircrafts had over four hundred holes in them. Most notably, Brady and his crew had rescued nearly a hundred wounded soldiers. Brady and his crew extracted soldiers from areas where others had failed. Of his heroic efforts that day, Brady says it was just like any other day. The difference this time was that someone cared to write about it. In his two tours in Vietnam, Brady flew over 2,000 combat missions and rescued over 5,000 injured soldiers.

After the war, Brady earned an MBA from Notre Dame and continued his career in the Army where he served for 34 years and retired as a major general.

Brady was honored mid-field during a break in the Military Appreciation Game on Saturday, which pitted the Tigers against the Wofford Terriers, and received a thunderous standing ovation as he took off his jacket to reveal he was wearing his new Tigers jersey underneath.

“My god this university is so appreciative of our military,” said Brady. “It’s really a beautiful thing to see: All the flags, the events, the memorial park dedicated to all who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and the stadium which is named Memorial Stadium. What a great thing that is to recognize our veterans.”

During a speech to Clemson’s Army and Air Force ROTC cadets, Brady imparted some insight as to the nature of courage.

“What is the key to courage?” he asked. “You should all understand a basic fundamental fact of life is that we’re not all born equal. We’re certainly not born equal in terms of looks, ability, opportunity and many other things. The one key to success that defines everything else is courage. In matters of courage, you can have all you want. You can’t use it up. It’s the one way we’re all born equal.”

During a question-and-answer session after his speech, Brady was asked if he was ever afraid as he flew his helicopter into the war zones.

“I was never afraid,” he explained. “In combat my faith was a substitute for fear. It gave me confidence, kept me calm, and allowed me to do things that would have otherwise been impossible.”

Army and Air Force ROTC cadets escorted Brady for the three days he was on campus, and were visible everywhere during the week-long celebration; whether it was leading the parade onto the field on game day, posting a 24-hour honor guard at the Scroll of Honor (a memorial that pays tribute to the 493 Clemson alumni who gave the ultimate sacrifice), or conducting a solemn Battlefield Cross ceremony mid-field during halftime of the game.

They were all fitting tributes to a group of people who, Brady said, are more than deserving of the recognition.

“We have no kings or queens, no dukes or duchesses,” he said. “But we do have a nobility, and that’s our veterans. Veterans are America’s royalty.”

Date Taken: 11.02.2019
Date Posted: 11.06.2019 16:54
Story ID: 350796
Location: CLEMSON, SC, US 

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