After giving Dave my best directions down I-75, I started out, but would forgo the Interstate and take the 2 lane US 127 as far as I could before heading east on I-70 towards the Air Force Museum...it was a great day for a drive, the aging Jeep did it's job and I was at the Museum at 11:20, a full hour and a half before the Luther Young Bronze Star presentation. Mike Tillman, Jack "Old Cowboy" Smith, his wife Roberta, and Tommy Webb, were already there...Bob Griffith, who works at the Base, came along a short time later...Dave got there as we were heading towards the Security Police Defender Statue. We would join some 100 others, including Luther's family and old Military bosses, for the Ceremony. The 88th detachment of the Security Forces Squadron were on hand, along with a color guard and small Air Force Band from the base.
Sgt Luther W. Young, Bronze Star with "V" for Valor____
I did not know Luther Young personally until yesterday, but here is a short story of how he came to be honored:
Young was stationed at Ben Hoa Air Base...Ben Hoa, much like Tan Son Nhut was located near Saigon, the South Vietnam Capital, during the war....except TSN was at Saigon and Ben Hoa, also a large base(some disputes over whether Tan Son Nhut or Ben Hoa was the largest)...Sgt Young was assigned "C" Flight Security and his primary post was a watch/guard tower in the Bomb Dump...during his time there, 1967-68 Ben Hoa was under major rocket and mortar attacks from the North Vietnamese Army. On one such occasion Young stayed in his tower, a dicey thing considering that if the Bomb and Munitions Area was hit, Luther Young would have been vaporized in a heartbeat. Young declined orders to climb down from his post, and lucky for the several dozen pilots and aircraft crew members he did...he called the alarm for incoming, just in time for the crews to leave their barracks and head for the assigned bunkers...seconds later that Air Crew Living Quarters suffered a direct hit....those men could thank Sgt Luther Young for saving their lives.
Luther Young served out his year at Ben Hoa, and decided to serve another tour in the war zone...he took his 30 days free leave to be home with his family before heading back...as bad luck would have it, Young's brother, a Marine, was killed in action while Luther was home on leave...with that, his Vietnam service came to an end....and Luther spent the remainder of his 4 years stateside.
Forward 40 years_____
In 2008 Luther Young's Ben Hoa Commander Col. Martin "Marty" Strones, remembered the young Sergeant from those days and began a campaign to find Young and see that he got the recognition he deserved...he contacted another leader of the 3rd Security Police at that time, Lt Col Kent Miller, and also Major General Mary Kay Hertog, who at that time was Commander/Director of the Security Forces in Washington D.C.Today General Hertog is the Commander of the 2nd Air Force at Kessler AFB in Mississippi. Through their work, they found Luther Young in Independence, Missouri, and began the work to honor him for his service with valor.
Yesterday at the Security Police Statue on the grounds of the Air Force Museum, Luther Young received his just honor...a honor he did not campaign or ask for. Luther Young, like most of us in the VSPA was a young one term Airman, he became an unlikely hero, and was honored so yesterday in Dayton, Ohio.
After meeting many of Luther's family members in attendance, and saying so long to my 5 cohorts in the Vietnam Security Police Association...I climbed in the Jeep and headed the 80 miles home..taking I-70 this time to Ohio 49 where I headed north through the farm country with the knowledge that summer is at hand and it's time to enjoy the season.
Photos-Sgt Luther Wade Young wearing his Bronze Star with "V" attached/The Defender Fortis Statue just before the Ceremony/Major General Mary Kay Hertog, with Luther Young in the foreground during the awards ceremony/5 Old Vietnam Sky Cop in the Museum Cafe...from left to right Mike Tillman, Pat Houseworth, Tommy Webb, Bob Griffith, and Jack Smith/Tommy Webb(L) and Dave Maltzen(center) talk with 3rd SPS Retired Lt. Col Kent Miller/and Bob Griffith talks with his old stateside commander Col. Marty Strones...Col Strones was the Commander at Ben Hoa who began the paperwork to get his Airman Luther Young awarded the Bronze Star with V for Valor.