Monday, May 29, 2006

"The 8th of November"--Specialist 6th Lawrence Joel: Winner of the Medal of Honor


Specialist 6th Lawrence Joel was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on February 22, 1928. He served his country in Korea and Vietnam. As a United States Army Medical Corpsman, serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade on November 8, 1965, during Operation Hump in War Zone D in Vietnam he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. His citation reads:

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 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. 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 one 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.


President Lyndon Johnson presented Specialist 6th Joel with the Medal of Honor on March 9, 1967. Lawrence Joel was the first living African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Spanish American War, although that fact sadly probably testifies only to the tragic legacy of racism in the miliary during the Jim Crow era. There were certainly surviving African American war heroes in the two World Wars and Korea who merited the Medal of Honor but were never recognized.

Lawrence Joel died on February 4, 1984, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetary.

The action in which Lawrence Joel won the Medal of Honor took place during Operation Hump in War Zone D. On November 8, 1965, the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigage, was ambushed by a superior force of over 1200 Viet Cong. 48 American soldiers died that day. Their battalion furiously defended themselves, killing 403 of the enemy. "The 8th of November" is a beautiful and touching song by country music artists Big and Rich, about that battle. Big and Rich composed the song about their friend Niles Harris, a veteran of the 173rd Airborne, who was wounded that day. A music video of the song may be found at "A Mom and her Blog." There is an introduction by Kris Kristofferson, who relates the story of Specialist 6th Lawrence Joel and the song. (Hat tip to Annika's Journal, for linking the site.)

27 Comments:

Anonymous Joey Stras said...

Hey,
I found out about Lawrence Joel by listening to a song by "Big And Rich" and the song is named "8th Of November". I have got to say that song is a really good song. And from reading from this sight and many other's and listening to the song I hope to learn as much as I can of Lawrence Joel and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. And I also want to learn more about Operation HUMP. I would like to receive e-mails about him if you do that at all. Reading about Lawrence Joel and listening to the song has really inspired me. I sure will not soon forget about Lawrence and his very bave acts in Vietnam


Lawrences' Fan
Joey Stras 

Posted by Joey Stras

Sunday, June 11, 2006 9:58:00 PM  
Blogger David Schantz said...

I'm going to have to get out my copy of the book Doc By Mark R. Littleton and Charles "Chuck" Wright to see if Sp6c. Joel is mentioned. The book is made up of short stories about the heroic actions of medics corpsmen and surgeons in combat. Someone at work ask me if I knew anything about 11/8/65 or a song about that date . I was doing a search that was what brought me here. Interesting site.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic 

Posted by David Schantz

Sunday, June 18, 2006 11:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a veteran of the Vietnam era and a proud American, I have only this to say. It's about time our Vietnam vets get the recognition that was due them all those years ago. Stand up and be counted.

God Bless America
God Bless us all! 

Posted by Vicki Braden

Saturday, June 24, 2006 6:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born in June of 1967, and know only what I've read or have been told by friends that were in Vietnam. After hearing this song and seeing the music video by Big & Rich I felt compelled to investigate more about Lawrence Joel. He was a true American, as was every other soldier that bravely fought in Vietnam, and every other war the United States has been involved in. THANK YOU, to all servicemen and women both past and present for your selfless acts and dedication to this wonderful country. Happy 4th of July

Posted by Walter Cox

Thursday, June 29, 2006 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous AJ Chambo said...

I saw the music video for "The 8th of November" on CMT and fell in love with the song. I was a little curious om what happend at the battle so I browsed and found this page. As a Proud American and am honored and grateful we have men like Lawerence Joel who served or are currently serving our country.
Hooah!
God Bless the USA 

Posted by AJ Chambo

Friday, June 30, 2006 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Army Medical Department honors Specialist Joel to this day. The main auditorium at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where most of the important briefings, meetings and medical education are delivered is named "Joel Auditorium". A large picture of Specialist Joel graces the wall, along with the story of his Medal of Honor.  

Posted by Steve

Monday, July 03, 2006 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Tammy said...

Hi, I tried to trackback, but wordpress doesn't seem to believe in them, even tho they have a lil' box for it. I added a new post with some of the background info and a link to the mini-documentary Big and Rich has done. It can be seen here . I just wish I could figure out how to capture the actual video. 

Posted by Tammy

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 4:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

USAF Viet Nam Vet 1965-66 (unofficial because we were stationed on Oki and Gaum with B-52 and KC-135s during Operation Arc Light. We also rotated in and out of Don Muang Air Base, Thailand, with the tankers supporting jet fighter/observer missions over Nam and who knows where else). Any way, the reason I'm writing this note is to state that Hedgehogs are not Rodents but are Carnivores with a mouth full of teeth like a dog or cat. I am also a service brat and while in Europe with my Dad we had Hedgehogs in the fields around our home and I have 'experienced' those teeth.
Bob 

Posted by Bob Towery

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 8:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like your Freedom???? Thank a Vet!

To all those who have served and the families they loved. Thankyou for your sacrifices. Thank you for my families freedom and providing a wonderful country for my children to live in....

God Bless. 

Posted by Ken Norris

Friday, July 28, 2006 5:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Linda said...

As a younger person, I knew about war, but never thought about how it effects people...until my husband(then engaged) went to war in the Gulf in 1991. I commend Big and Rich for taking the time and effort to remember.
Thankyou and God Bless.

Linda H. SC
Posted by Linda H.

Monday, August 14, 2006 3:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dad was in vietnam, but he never really talks much about it. Of course, I know not to ask much either. "Big And Rich" came out with with the song "The 8th of November" and like many here, I found this site as a search result. I just want to say Thanks to Big And Rich for recognizing those who were forgotten as soon as they stepped on the plane. There isn't anything that I wont do to support our troops. In fact, I'm actually signing up for a CivPol job in Iraq this month. I figure it's the least I can do, and I owe it to those over there and to my country.

God Bless the USA. 

Posted by David Warner

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous R. Edward Cummins said...

As a Vietnam Vet, I have very seldom had reason to remember,watch, view or listen to anything relating to that time frame. Most Vietnam Vets I know feel the same way. This song hit me hard when I first hear it. Nothing has been more rewarding to the servicemen and woman who served in Vietnam other than the Great Wall. Finally something has been done to make the people realize the sacrifices of the Vietnam Vets. To bad it has taken 40 years.

Tears come to my eyes whenever I hear this song, but not for the song as much as the memories of those who didnt come home.

My flag waves high and proud. 

Posted by R. EDWARD CUMMINS

Thursday, August 31, 2006 9:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 8th of November" When I heard this song and saw the video that Big and Rich made, I had to learn more of what had happen in the heat of battle. Mr. Joel and all service men and women who were or are on the front lines today shoud be prayed for, and never be forgotten.
In 1965 I was 10 years old, by the time I graduated high school in 1974 the war was just finishing if not already over. I miss the draft by a few years, but I was ready to go if needed, I was born at the right time, but those born before me weren't.
Why doesn't someone make a website of all the Medal of Honor winners?
I want to thank at this time Big and Rich for making a fantastic video and a great song for an even greater man, that would be Mr. Joel 

Posted by Rich Stellino

Sunday, September 03, 2006 6:23:00 PM  
Blogger Joye Ross said...

iruleb The Ft. McPhearson, GA. medical clinic is "The Lawrence Joel Army Medical Clinic". After seeing the the Big & Rick video I googled the 8th of Nov. 1965 and got to this site. While looking at tSFC Joel's tombstone I realized that the clinic here is named after himl. What a brave and strong soldier. My husband retired with 28 years in the Army and my father and step-father were veterans of WWll. SFC Lawerence Joel's story is a testamony to his brave service and the bravery of all our men and women in our military doing there jobs so we can sleep in peace tonight( as Toby Keith says in his song). Next time you see a military person take the time to thank them for their service! 

Posted by Joye Ross

Monday, September 04, 2006 8:19:00 PM  
Blogger Joye Ross said...

2006/05/8th-of-november- The Ft. McPhearson, GA. medical clinic is "The Lawrence Joel Army Medical Clinic". After seeing the the Big & Rick video I googled the 8th of Nov. 1965 and got to this site. While looking at tSFC Joel's tombstone I realized that the clinic here is named after himl. What a brave and strong soldier. My husband retired with 28 years in the Army and my father and step-father were veterans of WWll. SFC Lawerence Joel's story is a testamony to his brave service and the bravery of all our men and women in our military doing there jobs so we can sleep in peace tonight( as Toby Keith says in his song). Next time you see a military person take the time to thank them for their service!

Monday, September 04, 2006 8:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Trogdon said...

When I first heard the Song "8th of November" My hair stood up. The fellow mentioned in the narative was from my city. His memory and all Veterans are symbolized by the "Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum" which is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The link attached will be of benefit to those seeking more information on Lawrence Joel.

http://www.ljvm.com/lawrencejoel.html 

Thank you to Big & Rich for not allowing their memorys to fade.

Please do not forget our soldiers and thank them for their service any chance you get.

 

Posted by Brad Trogdon

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 9:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Beth Burks said...

Big & Rich made me wonder and at the same time brought out that pride I carry for those who serve our country. My dad is a Vietnam Vet and for him, and the rest fothe guys who didn't get the respect they so deserve- Welcome home- We love you and we're proud of you! 

Posted by Bethany Burks

Monday, September 18, 2006 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Khyle Jackson said...

After hearing the song by Big and Rich I searched for what happened that day, which brought me to this site as many others. I was born in 1968 and obviously missed the war however, my father served in Vietnam and I am forever greatful to all who have worn the uniform of The United States of America, to protect the liberties for which this country was founded. I'm amazed by the stories of courage, dignity, and honor of men like Lawrence Joel, who risked EVERYTHING for their fellow countrymen. I'm also amazed at the level of talent from songwriters like Big and Rich, who through song can inspire someone so much as to look up the reason the song was written. I'm equally as grateful to them for giving us something to keep there memory alive. God Bless America.  

Posted by Khyle Jackson

Wednesday, November 08, 2006 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger john beam said...

on december 29th 2006 ,one of the last heros of the 8th of november finally got his leave ,one last breath and this man people called hook .took his last breath and now he can lay that day aside ,hook , or , larry lockeby ,never talked about that day ,but i learned of it from the two purple hearts,other various medals and accomadations that hung on his wall in a hidden corner ,that only he would walk back in time to , Hook was a great man with many accomplishments in his life , people that was lucky enough to just walk by this great man and feel a slight breeze
of his proud walk will never know how lucky they were , as for me i was the lucky one , i knew i stood beside a real to life hero ,and i thank God he passed my way ,i will always be a better person thanks to this great man who showed people what it takes to survive in this hard life . thank you Larry Lockeby .Ride Free ,Ride Hard Through the Heavens and The Stars and always remember ,the 8th Of November . your friend John L. Beam , Mason ,Texas  

Posted by john

Saturday, December 30, 2006 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Marshall said...

Like most who posted here I found out about Lawrence Joel by listening to a song by "Big And Rich". As a black cowboy who has never served I would like to thank all my vets from the past and all our men and women defending America today.

Thanks Guys for my freedom which sometime even I take for granted.

"God bless the vets."

Friday, April 06, 2007 9:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to know if any person who was there on 11-8-65 would be wiling to speak with me? The reasons for my request are a little strange. I was have a connection to this date and this battle that may seem strange. I am an ordained minister, I am 42 years old. My birth took place within 24 hrs of this battle and it has haunted me for reasons unknown. Please post a contact if your willing.

No greater love than to give ones life for his brother.

Thursday, May 01, 2008 8:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The story of the November 8, 1965 battle and SP5 Lawrence Joel's part in it is also recounted in "Beyond Combat" by MAJ James M. Hutchens, a chaplain with 173rd Airborne Brigade at the time. MAJ Hutchens was wounded in the Battle of Hill 65 and received a Bronze Star. The book was published by Moody Press in 1968.

Monday, May 12, 2008 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a M-60 Machine Gunner that was at Doc's side that day trying to cover him as he was moving around treating our people - the plastic he stopped the sucking chest wound was the plastic I had my wallet wrapped in. Being the point platoon, most of the guys were cut down in the initial 5 minutes of the ambush - Larry did quite a job that very long day and after being hit 4 times still crawled around helping those that were still with us. Although he's
no longer with us I would again like to say - 43 years later:

THANKS LARRY !!!
PFC William Henry
LMG 1st PLT/C-1-503 Inf.

Friday, July 04, 2008 4:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knew Lawernce Joel when I was stationed with the 173rd on Okinawa and Vietnam from March 64 to July 66 and was on Operation Hump with 2nd platoon, A !/503rd.
He was quite a bit older than us 18 to 20 year olds and we showed him a lot of respect long before he earned the Medal of Honor.

Harry Allen
Placerville, Calif

Monday, January 26, 2009 3:24:00 PM  
OpenID Johnny D'd girl said...

harry allen...
im doing a project on lawrence joel, i wonder if you look on this site again, if you could give me some info on him. if anyone else has info on him could you e-mail me at johnnydsgirll@aol.com thanks

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dad is a VietNam vet. I was able to see Big & Rich show their video and making of the video "8th of Nov." I was so moved by it that during the final playing of the song I stood at attention as tears ran down my face.

I've always been proud of what my father did during his 21 years of service. And am glad to have the chance to say so.

Each year in March he has a "mini reunion" with some of the guys from the 7th/17th Airborne. Then they have a big reunion later in the summer.

I wish I had the chance to write to Joel or his family to say how proud of him I am. It would have been an honor.

Saturday, February 14, 2009 12:23:00 AM  
Anonymous raudenbush said...

joel was in my platoon while serving in the 82nd airborne division.i view this video about twice a month for many years. he was a proud paratrooper.

Saturday, June 30, 2012 6:18:00 PM  

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