The second release in an illustrated series spotlighting the actions of soldiers who received the Medal of Honor is now available.
Produced by the Association of the U.S. Army, “Medal of Honor: Roy Benavidez” tells the story of the Special Forces staff sergeant who became a Green Beret legend for his heroic actions in Vietnam on May 2, 1968.
“It’s a very powerful story and one that people are going to enjoy reading,” Joseph Craig, director of AUSA’s book program, said.
Powerful — and superhuman.
Benavidez volunteered that day to help retrieve a team of 12 reconnaissance personnel who had been pinned down by about 1,000 North Vietnamese infantry near the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Once Benavidez realized the wounded men on the ground were unable to approach the pick-up zone for the helicopter he had boarded, the staff sergeant directed the helo pilot to a clearing, where he then leapt from the hovering chopper.
Seventy-five yards of intense small arms fire-swept terrain stood between Benavidez and the recon team, but on he fearlessly ran, suffering multiple grievous wounds to his leg, head and face in the process.
Ignoring his own injuries, the Green Beret treated the wounded from the reconnaissance team, then tossed smoke canisters to signal the awaiting aircraft to their position.
When Benavidez moved to the recon team’s fallen leader to retrieve classified intelligence documents, he was wounded again, this time by small arms fire to the abdomen and grenade shrapnel that tore into his back.
Just then, the awaiting helicopter crashed when its pilot was mortally wounded.
But Benavidez did not hesitate, moving to the wreckage and assisting the wounded, organizing survivors into a defensive perimeter, and resupplying those in the fight with water and munitions.
As he rendered medical aid to another soldier, Benavidez was hit yet again by small arms fire, this time in the thigh.
Despite his injuries, he continued to assist wounded personnel, carrying men to another helicopter that had since landed.
While making a second trip to retrieve another injured soldier, Benavidez was attacked in hand-to-hand combat by a North Vietnamese combatant who stabbed the Green Beret with his bayonet.
Never one to be deterred by gun shot, shrapnel, or stab wounds, Benavidez pulled the bayonet out of his body before using his own knife to stab the enemy to death, leaving his blade lodged in the dead combatant before carrying yet another friendly to safety.
When he was finally evacuated, Benavidez had lost so much blood that medics placed him in a body bag, believing him to be dead.
A doctor began to zip up the body bag, which was next to deceased soldiers, until an exhausted Benavidez spat in his face, a last-ditch effort to signal he was still in the fight.
In the end, Benavidez was credited with saving eight soldiers, an effort that earned him the Medal of Honor.
It was the extent of his herculean heroics that drew the creative team at AUSA to his story, making him an easy choice to be the subject of their second graphic novel — the first being about Alvin York.
“One of the things I was really impressed with is the level of work that the creative team has put into it,” Craig said.
“The scripts and the artists — these are all people from the world of professional comic book publishing. These guys know comics, they know military comics in particular, and the job is just really top notch.”
The collaborative team included script-writing by Chuck Dixon (Marvel’s “Punisher"), drawings by Rick Magyar (“Iron Man”), color work by Peter Pantazis (“Justice League,” “Superman,” “Wolverine”) and lettering by Troy Peteri (“Spiderman,” “Iron Man,” “X-Men”).
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.