Congressional Medal of Honor


Lawrence Joel

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Lawrence Joel
Lawrence Joel
Listen to Medal of Honor Presentation Ceremony

Rank and Organization: Specialist Sixth Class (then Sp5c), U.S. Army, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade.

Place and Date: Republic of Vietnam, 8 November 1965.

Entered Service At: New York City, N.Y.

G.O. No.: 15, 5 April 1967.

Born: 22 February 1928, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp6c. 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 gunfire, 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 machinegun 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. Through this period of time, he constantly shouted words of encouragement to all around him. Then, completely ignoring the warnings of others, and his 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 13 more men before his medical supplies ran out. Displaying resourcefulness, he saved the life of 1 man by placing a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood. As 1 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, Sp6c. Joel again shouted words of encouragement as he crawled through an intense hail of gunfire to the wounded men. After the 24 hour battle subsided and the Viet Cong dead numbered 410, snipers continued to harass the company. Throughout the long battle, Sp6c. 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. Sp6c. Joel's profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Source: Department of Defense.
Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy.
Black Americans in Defense of Our Nation.
Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1985.

Source: Johnson, Jesse L. (Ed.)  Black Women in the Armed Forces, 1942-1974: A Pictorial History.  Hampton, VA: Johnson, c. 1974.

"President Lyndon B. Johnson escorts SP5 Lawrence Joel, Black Medal of Honor winner and
Mrs. Joel to the podium during ceremony held in honor of Specialist Joel. Mrs. Joel and her
children shared this honor. Vice President Humber[sic], Humphrey, for many years a champion
of civil rights for minorities, is shown in the far right. More than 30 Black officers and
enlisted men have won the Medal of Honor."

Source: Johnson, Jesse L. (Ed.) Black Women in the Armed Forces, 1942-1974: A Pictorial History. Hampton, VA: Johnson, c. 1974.


Lantz, Ragni. (June 1967). "Dixie Town Fetes War Hero." Ebony, p. 27-28, 30, 32, 34, 36.

"Lawrence Joel Army Health and Dental Clinic." Retrieved March 2, 2004 from the World Wide Web:

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.

"President Gives Medal of Honor to Medic." New York Times, March 10, 1967. P. 20.

Reed, Roy. "Johnson Wrote Last of a Dozen Drafts of Speech." New York Times, January 18, 1968. P. 17.

"Who Is Lawrence Joel? – Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum Complex." Retrieved October 3, 2003 from the World Wide Web:

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