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Leaving A Legacy Essay

1108 words - 4 pages

Victor IlogEnglish 130110 a.m.2/20/2004Lawrence WelshLeaving a LegacyPrivate 1st Class Richard Dominguez wasn't thinking about self-preservation on that November day 35 years ago. Within his field of vision were several critically wounded infantrymen in desperate need of emergency evacuation. They were pinned down by enemy fire and in serious trouble. Without regard for his own life, the 20-year-old private charged into the barrage of bullets aimed at the wounded. By placing accurate and continuous fire on enemy positions, the soldier diverted the Viet Cong long enough for medics to carry the casualties and wounded to waiting choppers. The U.S. Army awarded the young private with the nations third highest honor, the Bronze Star, for his valor that day."Imagine what hell is like…then go way past it." Such was the reality for Richard Dominguez and the thousands of young men that fought for their lives in the jungles of Vietnam. It was in this reality that Dominguez bravely faced the horrors of war, and became a true hero.Dominguez would eventually earn three Bronze Stars during his tour of duty. The first was awarded after the young private single-handedly captured an enemy bunker. The ensuing interrogations of prisoners led to the capture of yet another bunker that contained vital information on enemy movements. After more than 50 combat assaults by aerial insertion, the Army awarded Pvt. Dominguez with his third Bronze Star in May 1969 for meritorious service.ILOG 2Today, when people talk about courage, bravery, or heroism, it's usually attached to a story of a boy rescuing a dog, or a celebrity fund raising effort against breast cancer. The truly worthy aspects of human nature are rarely stressed or exemplified by a media that spoon-feeds the public feel good stories. As I sat across from Dominguez, I realized that I was speaking to the real thing. With his face leathered by war and the effects of Agent Orange, the 55-year-old veteran took me on a hellish journey through his Vietnam. It was the summer of 1968 when Pvt. Dominguez, a restless 19 years of age, arrived at his processing station in South Vietnam. When I asked the two-time Purple Heart recipient how he felt when first stepping out of the plane he replied, "Only thing you could feel was the heat. It was 115 degrees and you could taste the humidity. It wasn't long before I thought, 'What the hell have I done?' and I just wanted to get the hell out of there. You see, when you go to 'Nam, you're really replacing a body. Either one that got shipped out because his tour was over," he paused, eyes slanted, "or a dead one." Dominguez grew up in El Paso during a time when the city was anchored not by its image with Juarez, but with its interdependence with the Fort Bliss military base. The second of five sons, he was raised in a military family. I wasn't surprised when the 5'10", steely-eyed man told me he volunteered for service. "Since I was a boy, war had always...

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