In 1971, a newly re-activated military base was positioned to support Operation Lam Son 719. The operation was to be the invasion of Laos, but the South Vietnamese. However the North Vietnamese with their army sapper attacked the base.
The intent of Lam Son was to invade Laos in order to cut off the North Vietnamese’s supply line, using the Ho Chi Minh Trail. However, the invasion did not go as planned.
ARVN and American forces both were forced to gather their wounded and retreat. The ARVN fully retreated by March 25th.
Two days prior, though, North Vietnamese fighters decided to attack the Army base at Khe Sanh. The attack was thwarted. One of the men who was integral in turning the NVA around was Michael J. Fitzmaurice.
Fighting the NVA
Fitzmaurice was stationed in a bunker with three other men. They did not know yet that the base was under attack. Then, suddenly, an explosive flew into the bunker out of thin air. He was able to throw two of them out, but the third was about to go off.
He made the only decision he could, throwing himself on the final explosive with a flak vest on. He saved the lives of the three men in the bunker with him, but was left wounded and partially blinded.
However, Fitzmaurice did not give up. He got up and went outside, taking out enemy invaders with a rifle. He was hit by another grenade and lost the use of his rifle, but he did not stop fighting. Instead, he used his bare hands to kill an enemy soldier, taking his weapon.
He continued taking down the enemy with one of their own weapons. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the three men’s lives and for his courageous fighting. The Medal was presented to him by President Nixon.