Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story

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"Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story"
Single by Jedi Mind Tricks featuring R.A. the Rugged Man
from the album Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell
Released September 19, 2006
Genre Conscious hip hop
Length 4:02
Label Babygrande Records
Writer(s) V. Luvineri, K. Baldwin, R.A. Thorburn
Producer(s) Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind
Jedi Mind Tricks featuring R.A. the Rugged Man singles chronology
"Heavy Metal Kings"
"Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story"

"Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story" is a song by hip hop duo Jedi Mind Tricks. The track is produced by Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind, and features a guest verse from R.A. the Rugged Man. It is the fourth song on the group's 2006 album Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell. While not released as a single, the song was recognized as one of the album's standout tracks.[1][2]

Song description[edit]

The song's producer, Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind, usually known for his intricate, layered production, provides a dark, minimalist beat for the track, simply featuring drums, bass, and a light, wailing female vocal sample. Jedi Mind Tricks vocalist Vinnie Paz provides the opening verse, a first-person narrative telling the story of a young, scared and confused United States soldier stationed in Gia Định, who, after seeing the carnage of battle and the corruption of the Army, begins to question the real motives behind the Vietnam War. R.A. the Rugged Man's verse recounts the war experience of his father, highly decorated war hero Staff Sgt. John A. Thorburn, who was nearly killed in a crash near Cambodia after his helicopter's pilot was hit. He reaches a moment of clarity while in the hospital, but after being sent home, he discovers he has been exposed to Agent Orange, leaving two of his children severely mentally and physically handicapped. His son Maxx died at the age of 10 - his daughter Dee-ann at the age of 27.[3]


The key factor to the song's acclaim was the nearly two-minute verse by R.A. the Rugged Man. Numerous album reviews referenced the verse as the highlight of the song. An AllHipHop.com review called the song "the most insightful track JMT has done in years" and states that "This record will be remembered most for R.A.'s robotic flow recounting his own father's story of war while absolutely murdering the beat."Hamza, Omar.[4] HipHopDX.com writer Joshua Naber states that it is "possibly my favorite verse of the year", calling it an "epic tale of War".[1] The October 2006 issue of The Source magazine featured the verse as its "Hip-Hop Quotable" of the month, and also listed "Uncommon Valor" on its "Fat Tape" list.

While the performance of R.A. garnered considerable attention and acclaim, it was not the sole factor in the song's popularity. An online reviewer for HipHopLinguistics.com also praises the performance of Vinnie Paz, stating that he "does a great job personalizing the effects of war."[5] RapReviews.com reviewer Steve 'Flash' Juon calls the song "as creepy and hair-raising as hip-hop gets", and praises the production work, "Stoupe ups the ante by sneaking in subtle sound effects that make you feel like you're right there in the jungle."[6] MVRemix.com reviewer Michael Diston calls the song a "stunning moment", and also comments on the song's concept and fitting production, "The haunting beat does the subject matter justice – a fantastic concept and one of JMT's finest moments."[2]


The opening of the song begins with an excerpt from Richard Nixon's resignation speech[7] and a line from a 1950s American public service announcement, Duck and Cover, about a possible nuclear attack.

John A. Thorburn[edit]

Staff Sgt. John Andrew Thorburn (August 26, 1946 in St. Albans, Queens−January 7, 2010 in Port Jefferson, New York) was an American war Veteran who served in the United States Army and the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. Thorburn received several medals for his service. He was with the 101st Airborne Division (The "Screaming Eagles"). He was later assigned with the Green Berets into the 10th Special Forces Group.

On March 14, 1970, Thorburn was on a mission from the Ban Me Thuot East Airfield in South Vietnam aboard a UH-1P "Green Hornet" Huey helicopter with the 20th Special Operations Squadron, when the chopper was shot down near the Duc Lap Special Forces Camp by enemy fire which resulted in Captain Dana A. Dilley's death and three wounded soldiers, including Thorburn. An Army helicopter retrieved the soldiers and took them to Cam Ranh Air Base.[8] Thorburn was later discharged following injuries he received.

Staff Sergeant Thorburn was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross by New York State Senator John J. Flanagan for his accomplishments in the Vietnam War. He also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with two Oak leaf Clusters, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, the National Defense Service Medal, the United States and Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the Air Force Crew Member Wings, the Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, and the United States Army Silver Wings.[9]


External links[edit]