The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3278, American Legion Post 196 and The Central Texas Veterans Memorial organization observed Memorial Day by honoring Vietnam War veterans from Central Texas. Two Granite Markers were placed in Memorial Park, inscribed with the names of eleven Brown County men who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving up their lives, in service to their country while serving in Vietnam. The eleven men are: Raymond Rodriguez Delgado, Eddie Lee Ephraim, James T. Griffin, Jr. J.D. Harrell, Phillip Hease Holmes, Arthur Earl Keesee, Brit P. Lemmons, Willard Alton Perry, Jr., Michael Autrey Teague, Nelson Payne Tuttle, and Kenneth Wayne Wheeler.
The Guest of Honor was Sgt. Robert E. O’Malley USMC, of Goldthwaite, who served in Vietnam in 1965, and received the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery and valor.
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the CMOH is “the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.” O’Malley is one of only 71 living recipients of the award. A plaque was recently placed in the Veterans Memorial Park in honor of O’Malley. It tells the story of O’Malley’s actions which earned him the Medal of Honor:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the Communist (Viet Cong) forces at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader in Company “I”, Third Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced) near An Cu’ong 2, South Vietnam, on 18 August 1965. While leading his squad in the assault against a strongly entrenched enemy force, his unit came under intense small arms fire. With compete disregard for his personal safety, Corporal O’Malley raced across an open rice paddy to a trench line where the enemy forces were located. Jumping into the trench, he attacked the Viet Cong with his rifle and grenades, and singly killed eight of the enemy. He then led his squad to the assistance of an adjacent Marine unit which was suffering heavy casualties. Continuing to press forward, he reloaded his weapon and fired with telling effect into the enemy emplacement. He personally assisted in the evacuation of several wounded Marines, and again regrouping the remnants of his squad, he returned to the point of the heaviest fighting. Ordered to an evacuation point by an officer, Corporal O’Malley gathered his besieged and badly wounded squad, and boldly led them under fire to a helicopter for withdrawal. Although three times wounded in this encounter, and facing imminent death from a fanatic and determined enemy, he steadfastly refused evacuation and continued to cover his squad’s boarding of helicopters while, from an exposed position, he delivered fire against the enemy until his wounded men were evacuated. Only then, with his last mission accomplished, did he permit himself to be removed from the battlefield. By his valor, leadership, and courageous efforts in behalf of his comrades, he served as an inspiration to all who observed him, and reflected the highest credit upon the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”
Over 100 people turned out to remember the fallen and honor their service. Several speakers addressed the audience, James Masters, Post Commander of the VFW Post, commander (Chaplin) James Looby, Mayor Stephen Haynes, Dr. Stephen Kelly, Medal of Honor recipient Robert O’Malley, and keynote speaker Colonel Tom Gray American Legion Post 196 Commander. The Ceremony concluded with the formal dedication of the Memorial Markers.