PRESENTATION CEREMONY AT THE WHITE HOUSE, MARCH 9, 1967.
President Johnson's Remarks
Upon Awarding the Medal of Honor to Specialist 6 Lawrence Joel. Citation for Lawrence
Joel read by Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor.
Specialist Joel, members of your family, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Resor, distinguished Members
of Congress, ladies and gentlemen, members of the press,
We have come here today to honor the courage of a very brave soldier. His was a very special kind
of courage—the unarmed heroism of compassion and service to others. The conduct of Specialist
6 Lawrence Joel reflects, I believe, the role America itself must play on every battlefield of freedom.
In the face of death, in the fury of ambush, he risked his life that other men might live. Wounded
twice, Specialist Joel crawled for more than 12 hours, through unceasing enemy fire to bring others of
his fellow men to safety.
In those dark, dangerous hills, with the enemy only 30 feet away, he sustained the faith that our fighting
men place in the medic—their constant comrade, always ready to back their courage and to bind their
Today, in this quiet American garden, we acknowledge our great debt to Specialist Joel for his great
dedication in that savage action.
It is a terrible truth that suffering is so often the price of freedom. But freedom is indivisible.
To protect it in distant Asia is to maintain it here in America.
The willingness of Specialist Joel to die for freedom in the remote Vietnam province of Bien Hoa indicates,
as nothing else could, the willingness of his country to sacrifice, to stand, and to persist in freedom's
As we salute the valor of this soldier, we salute the best in the American tradition.
Just as he sustained those who fought for freedom in War Zone D, so shall we.
Just as he bound up their wounds, so shall we.
Just as he cared for his fellow man, so does all America care for those with whom we share this planet.
America, too, stands behind the fighter who is struggling to prevent subjugation; America is willing to make
sacrifices in order that all men may know the joy of peace and security; America, too, is dedicated to the
highest of all principles—that of serving mankind in its endless struggle toward a better, a fuller life
of dignity, devoid of tyranny.
Specialist Joel, with this medal comes your Nation's enduring gratitude. We thank you for what you've done.
You stand as a symbol—reminding all of us of our continuing responsibilities as citizens and our
continuing obligations as a nation. If we are worthy of your sacrifice and the sacrifice of those of your
comrades, then we shall never forget them.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded
in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to Specialist 6 Lawrence Joel United States Army for
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
Specialist 6 Lawrence Joel (then Specialist 5) distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk
of his life above and beyond the call of duty on November 8, 1965 while serving as a Medical Aidman,
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry on a battlefield in the
Republic of Vietnam.
Specialist Joel demonstrated indomitable courage, determination, and professional skill when a numerically
superior and well-concealed Viet Cong element launched a vicious attack which wounded or killed nearly
every man in the lead squad of the Company. After treating the men wounded by the initial burst of gun fire,
he bravely moved forward to assist others who were wounded while proceeding to their objective. While moving
from man to man, he was struck in the right leg by machine gun fire. Although painfully wounded his desire
to aid his fellow soldiers transcended all personal feeling. He bandaged his own wound and self administered
morphine to deaden the pain enabling him to continue his dangerous undertaking.
Throughout this period of time, he constantly shouted words of encouragement to all around him. Then,
completely ignoring the warnings of others, and his own pain, he continued his search for wounded exposing
himself to hostile fire; and, as bullets dug up the dirt around him, he held plasma bottles high while
kneeling completely engrossed in his life saving mission. Then, after being struck a second time and with
a bullet lodged in his thigh, he dragged himself over the battlefield and succeeded in treating thirteen more
men before his medical supplies ran out. Displaying resourcefulness, he saved the life of one man by placing
a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood.
As one of the platoons pursued the Viet Cong, an insurgent force in concealed positions opened fire on the
platoon and wounded many more soldiers. With a new stock of medical supplies, Specialist Joel again shouted
words of encouragement as he crawled through an intense hail of gun fire to the wounded men. After the
twenty-four hour battle subsided and the Viet Cong dead numbered four hundred and ten, snipers continued to
harass the Company.
Throughout the long battle, Specialist Joel never lost sight of his mission as a Medical Aidman and continued
to comfort and treat the wounded until his own evacuation was ordered. His meticulous attention to duty saved
a large number of lives and his unselfish, daring example under most adverse conditions was an inspiration
to all. Specialist Joel's profound concern for his follow soldiers, his conspicuous gallantry, and his
intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the
United States Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the armed forces of his country.