DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Friday means it is time for StoryCorps. And as we head into this Fourth of July weekend, we'll hear about a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez was a Green Beret who served in Vietnam. On his second tour of duty in 1968, Benavidez led a daring rescue and saved the lives of eight fellow soldiers. During that mission, he was shot 37 times. At StoryCorps, his daughter, Yvette Benavidez Garcia, and her husband, Rene, remembered what happened after the battle.
YVETTE GARCIA: The injuries were so severe that they thought he was dead. So they put him in the pile of the dead, and he was trying to muster up enough strength to get this medic to notice that he was alive, and all he could do was spit in the medic's face. That's when the medic realized this man's alive. And as a child, I remember sitting in the back seat behind him. All of a sudden, I could see blood dripping from the back of his head, and I would say, hey, dad, you know, your head is bleeding. He would reach back there and literally pull out a piece of shrapnel that was making its way through his skin. And he would just throw it away. You could hear the click. What did you think about my dad?
RENE GARCIA: My first impressions of him were at age 16. He just looked like angry.
Y. GARCIA: Because you were dating his daughter (laughter).
R. GARCIA: Probably, yeah. I remember the way he walked. I mean, it looked like a person in pain.
Y. GARCIA: Do you remember when you'd come over and watch a movie and him sneaking up on us?
R. GARCIA: He tried to sneak up on us, but it was pretty hard for him 'cause you could hear him shuffling his feet. And I whispered, don't look now, but we're being watched.
Y. GARCIA: Yeah, I'd go over there and he couldn't move fast enough to get away, so he would act like he had just gotten there.
R. GARCIA: Right.
Y. GARCIA: You know, I was young when he received the medal, and at the time, I really didn't understand why he was getting it. But I saw a lot, and now as an adult, I think back and my dad really suffered. You know, he was quick to correct you if you said, how did you win the medal? He would say, I didn't win this medal. I earned it.
GREENE: That was Yvette Benavidez Garcia with her husband, Rene, in El Campo, Texas. They were remembering her late father, Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1981. Their interview will be archived at the Library of Congress, and the StoryCorps podcast is on iTunes and also at npr.org.
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