Richard A. Penry

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Richard Allen Penry
Richard A. Penry.jpg
Born (1948-11-18)November 18, 1948
Petaluma, California
Died May 9, 1994(1994-05-09) (aged 45)
Place of burial Cypress Hill Memorial Park Petaluma, California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Sergeant
Unit 12th Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Brigade
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Bronze Star
Air Medal

Richard Allen Penry (November 18, 1948 – May 9, 1994) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Biography[edit]

Born in Petaluma, California, Penry joined the Army from Oakland, California, and by January 31, 1970 was serving as a Sergeant in Company C, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Brigade. On that day, in Binh Tuy Province of the Republic of Vietnam, his unit came under an intense enemy attack. After the company commander was wounded, Penry helped organize the defense of the area and repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to retrieve supplies and return fire.

Penry's Medal of Honor and ribbons on display at the Sgt. Richard Penry Medal of Honor Memorial Military Museum in Petaluma, California

Penry died at age 45 and was buried in Cypress Hill Memorial Park in Petaluma. Penry has two namesakes in his hometown: a park that was renamed in his honor, and a small military museum, the Sgt. Richard Penry Medal of Honor Memorial Military Museum, where his Medal of Honor is displayed.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Sergeant Penry's Medal of Honor citation reads:
Medal of Honor

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Penry, Company C, distinguished himself while serving as a rifleman during a night ambush mission. As the platoon was preparing the ambush position, it suddenly came under an intense enemy attack from mortar, rocket, and automatic weapons fire which seriously wounded the company commander and most of the platoon members, leaving small isolated groups of wounded men throughout the area. Sgt. Penry, seeing the extreme seriousness of the situation, worked his way through the deadly enemy fire to the company command post where he administered first aid to the wounded company commander and other personnel. He then moved the command post to a position which provided greater protection and visual communication and control of other platoon elements.Realizing the company radio was damaged and recognizing the urgent necessity to reestablish communications with the battalion headquarters, he ran outside the defensive perimeter through a fusillade of hostile fire to retrieve a radio. Finding it inoperable, Sgt. Penry returned through heavy fire to retrieve 2 more radios. Turning his attention to the defense of the area, he crawled to the edge of the perimeter, retrieved needed ammunition and weapons and resupplied the wounded men. During a determined assault by over 30 enemy soldiers, Sgt. Penry occupied the most vulnerable forward position placing heavy, accurate fire on the attacking enemy and exposing himself several times to throw hand grenades into the advancing enemy troops. He succeeded virtually single-handedly in stopping the attack. Learning that none of the radios were operable, Sgt. Penry again crawled outside the defensive perimeter, retrieved a fourth radio and established communications with higher headquarters. Sgt. Penry then continued to administer first aid to the wounded and repositioned them to better repel further enemy attacks. Despite continuous and deadly sniper fire, he again left the defensive perimeter, moved to within a few feet of enemy positions, located 5 isolated wounded soldiers, and led them to safety. When evacuation helicopters approached, Sgt. Penry voluntarily left the perimeter, set up a guiding beacon, established the priorities for evacuation and successively carried 18 wounded men to the extraction site. After all wounded personnel had been evacuated, Sgt. Penry joined another platoon and assisted in the pursuit of the enemy. Sgt. Penry's extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

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