Valor Friday

| May 24, 2024 | 17 Comments

Bud Anderson circa 1944

We discussed yesterday the recent passing of Brigadier General Clarence “Bud” Anderson. He was the last American triple ace still living. He shot down 16 German Luftwaffe planes in the skies over Europe between 8 March and 5 December 1944. He earned five Distinguished Flying Crosses for his successes. Read them here.

Post-war, Anderson remained in the Air Force, was a test pilot during the Korean War (including working on the project that put parasite fighters on the wingtips of B-29/B-50 bombers), served as a F-105 Thunderchief wing in Vietnam, and retired as a colonel in 1972 after 30 years of service. He’d later receive an honorary promotion to the flag ranks. He was also a good friend to Chuck Yeager, who he had served alongside in the 357th Fighter Group in WWII, and then served with him while a test pilot in the early-50s.

You might wonder how a man with so many enemy kills to his credit would have “only” the DFC. Reading through the list of American aces of WWII, I see some trends. The highest scoring “Ace of aces” in each branch of service received the Medal of Honor (Bong [USAAF], Campbell [USN], and Boyington [USMC]). Exceptionally high scoring aces also were awarded MoHs (McGuire, Foss). Many aces (and aviators in general) received the MoH, but most of those awards were for individual acts of bravery.

Most of the “Ace in day” men (those who shot down five enemy in a single day of flying) received the Distinguished Service Cross or Navy Cross for the act. Shooting down five enemy fighters was usually good for at least a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Spec 5 Clarence Sasser

We also lost another American hero with the name Clarence. Clarence Sasser was a private first class combat medic in Vietnam. He was drafted by the Army after losing his student deferment. He’d only spend 51 days in Vietnam, but there’s a reason for that.

Assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment (assigned to the 9th Infantry Division), on 10 January 1968, they were conducting a helicopter assault near n Dinh Tuong Province, South Vietnam.

As they were arriving, the men of the 3/60th Infantry were caught in an ambush. The enemy had surrounded the landing zone on three sides, and was dug into defensive positions. They opened fire on the American troops with mortars, automatic rifle fire, rockets, and small arms. In just the opening salvos, more than 30 men were cut down. The Americans were a disorganized mess, with cries of “DOC!” going out all around.

Without hesitation, Sasser ran through an open rice paddy, taking heavy fire from the enemy while exposed, to come to the aid of the wounded. He helped one man to safety, but Sasser was struck in the left shoulder by fragments from an enemy rocket blast. Sasser said he learned early on in this fighting that if you stood up, you died, so he grabbed the stalks of rice and pulled himself around. He didn’t dare get high enough that his pack were visible, as the medics are a prime target for the enemy.

Sasser refused treatment of his own wounds, and returned through a hail of enemy rocket and rifle fire, to provide aid to the other casualties. Moving from man to man, Sasser provided medical care for all he could find. He even searched around to make sure that he found all of his stricken brothers. He didn’t even let another wound or a third stop him. Even when those subsequent injuries rendered his legs completely immobile.

Though in excruciating pain, his legs useless, and going into shock from blood loss, Sasser dragged himself 100 yards through the mud as enemy fire continued without pause above him. Was he returning to the line for his own care? Absolutely not. The medic, you’ll remember they fight unarmed, crawled even further into the melee of battle to answer the screams of a wounded comrade.

Arriving at his next patient, Sasser began to address the man’s wounds. When he heard more Americans calling out for help, Sasser was by now unable to move. He could still shout though, so he continued calling to these two wounded American soldiers, encouraging them to get to him so he could help. When those men made it the 200 yards through the battle, Sasser used his remaining strength to tend to their wounds and kept all three of these men (and himself) alive for more than 2 hours until a relief force was able to retrieve them.

Sasser recalled in the din of combat that he told one man, after dressing his wounds, “Here man, take your weapon.” Then encouraged him with “Let’s try to get out of here.” They’d ultimately spent the whole day fighting in that rice paddy, then hunkered down for the night, as Air Force planes dropped napalm and munitions on the surrounding trees to keep the enemy from overrunning them.

Sasser was evacuated, and would largely recover. He was promoted to specialist five, received the Medal of Honor from President Nixon in 1969, and left the Army. He returned to his native Texas, went to college, worked at an oil refinery, and then had a career working for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sasser led a quiet life after his time in Hell. You can tell by listening to him speak of his experiences that he never got over it. Some four decades later, he gave an interview to the Medal of Honor Book project. During the piece, Sasser tears up several times as he recounts the horrors of that day. You can see he’s still haunted by the cries of the men for help that he was just incapable of answering, though he answered far more than any one man would ever be epected to.

Sasser is also humble. He says he was just doing his job, and doesn’t think he did anything “above and beyond.” I’ll disagree, Mr. Sasser, you definitely went above and beyond the call of duty.

Sasser died on 13 May 2024 in Sugar Land, TX at age 76. He was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the 60th Infantry Regiment. Only four men of the regiment had received the honor for action in Vietnam, and only nine in the regiment’s history (2 in WWI, and 3 in WWII).

Category: Air Force, Army, Historical, Medal of Honor, Valor, We Remember

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Rest in Peace, Doc.


True heroes generally have a level of appreciation for having survived, combined with both guilt for not somehow doing more as well as genuine humility. Who am I to cast aspersions on some of today’s heroes, but I’ll do so anyway? When seemingly every Navy SEAL and recipient of a “V” device writes a book, starts a podcast, and goes on a national tour, I question their motivation to have served in the first place. Was it for love of nation and the men and women to their left and right, or merely for name recognition, celebrity status, and internet clout?

The Medal of Honor Book Project has some outstanding interviews with some of the most down-to-earth and just plain human people out there. That they spent time in hell and performed acts worthy of our nation’s highest military honor is often overshadowed by their love of their fellow Service Members, their desire to have saved just one more friend, and their philosophy that the MOH was earned by all, despite only being worn by one.

USMC Steve

I don’t agree. If you committed the action, you own that action. I doubt that those people you talk about entered the military with the intent to become popular trendy heroes or anything. Look at elite force types, and you are dealing with super type A personalities and egoes in many cases.


I probably shouldn’t have lumped those decorated for heroism in combat in with Not-So-Quiet Professionals. There’s a correlation, though, since there tends to be a higher number of decorated personnel in SOF units than their conventional counterparts.

We all know that “people” like Kerry got a Silver Star in Vietnam; we also know that Chris Kyle got the same award. Why? The former used his to help validate him as an anti-war politician while the latter wrote a book and became a bit of a cult hero as the “most deadly sniper.”

We don’t hear about SFC G, a Silver Star recipient who fought in the Battle of Wanat, who’s now a family man living a quiet life in Louisiana after being medically retired. He was a classmate at the Drill Sergeant Academy and spoke of Wanat exactly once, when our Drill Sergeant Leader brought up the importance of what we would soon be doing. From what I recall, SFC G had to fight to stay in the class, due to the lingering issues he had after all of his combat service. He did earn his hat and badge, and did finish his tour on Sand Hill before being forced into retirement.

Special Operations Forces have burgeoned since 9/11, and maybe it’s petty jealousy on my part, or maybe it’s a deep-seated mistrust of anyone who relies too much on qualifications or supposed service, but while previous generations dealt with the “eight tours in Vietnam Special Forces Recondo Recon SEAL, only person to escape captivity from Sum Yung Boi Prison in North Vietnam phonies”, we now have the “real deal” SEALs and such (gotta pick on them, as they’re the most visible) who have legitimate and very honorable service but then go on to put their names on things like the Modern Knight Project or SEALshit Coffee.


Or…they start an overpriced coffee brand.
They must have forgotten the ‘ Selfless ‘ part of ‘Selfless Service ‘


I assume you’re talking about Black Rifle. They at least embrace the brand and “lifestyle”, I guess. They produce some high quality and humorous videos and ads, have become probably the biggest “Vet Bro” brand out there (even Bass Pro Shops has a BRCC coffee shop at base Camp, and features their products pretty prominently), and seem to have fun in the process. But, yeah, cool stuff, with SF and Ranger founders, but who really cares? I do still have a very baseline subscription, and when the box of pods come in every few months, they’re taken to work for my coworkers to enjoy.

I’m very biased, so the only service-based business venture I can truly get behind is Ralph’s Tavern: Facebook. It’s an hour or so away from me and I only stopped in once in 2011 or so, but the proprietor is/was a Golden Rakkasan who fought in Korea. Besides the name and some 187th ARCT patch murals, there’s a small wall display and that’s it. Most LA/MS regulars probably know nothing of what a Rakkasan is.


He became king of the E4 mafia.

“He was promoted to specialist five, received the Medal of Honor from President Nixon in 1969, and left the Army. “


I believe the king was actually Specialist 7. I heard, They were treated like warrant officers and mostly acted like them too.


“Sasser led a quiet life after his time in Hell.”

He damn well deserved it.
Rest In Peace Sir.


I heard him speak at a function back in 2006 or 7, very nice man, very humble. He had a very strong Christian faith.

I will warn you the video does contain visual effects that may cause eye watering. Anybody that has ever had a bad day on the two-way rifle range, never gets over the idea that they could have done more. All you can do is pray that God Judges you, not based on the worst day of your life, but on everything. I’m not one to judge, but I think heaven will be lucky to have him


Got rather dusty in here. I thought pollen season was pretty much over around. Must be the filters in the air handling units. Guess I better change them. Might wanna do something about the Dust Bunnies, too.

That such men lived, indeed. Not all Super Heroes wear capes. Rest Easy, Mr. Sasser. I’m sure that the men you saved think that you went “…above and beyond…”…as do many of us.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

Amen, Gun Bunny, Amen.
Pass the kleenex.

My air filtration set up is clogged as well apparently.


Another great man gone. RIP good sir.

Doc Savage

I met Clarence Sasser in 1993 at Camp Bullis, TX…a humble and soft spoken man.
Rest in peace.


The best ones usually are, Doc.

RGR 4-78

Rest in Peace, Sir.