BY DUANE A VACHON, PH.D. On September 20th 1965 Larry Stanley Pierce became casualty number 1147. Not to his brother Coy or his mom and dad or to his wife Verlin or their three children, daughter Teresa, and sons Kelly and Greggory. To them he was a son, a brother, husband, and father.
Pierce, who joined the Army in California, was serving with Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. In September of 1965 Pierce was serving near Ben Cat in the central highlands of South Vietnam.
Pierce who was serving as a squad leader of a recon unit when they were ambushed by enemy forces. The squad succeeded in neutralizing an enemy machine gun and overthrowing the enemy. As the squad pursued the enemy they moved onto a dirt road and the bulk of the squad moved onto the road. As they were beginning to form up Pierce discovered a antipersonnel mine on the road. Pierce without any thought for his own safety and knowing that the mine would devastate most of his squad threw himself onto the mine as it exploded. His selfless act saved many of his fellow soldiers from loss of life and injury.
For his actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on February 24, 1966, and promoted to staff sergeant. The medal was formally presented to his family by President Lyndon B. Johnson during a ceremony at the White House.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Sergeant Larry Stanley Pierce (ASN: 19597808), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade, 173d Airborne Brigade, in action against enemy aggressor forces at Ben Cat, Republic of Vietnam, on 20 September 1965. Sergeant Pierce was serving as squad leader in a reconnaissance platoon when his patrol was ambushed by hostile forces. Through his inspiring leadership and personal courage, the squad succeeded in eliminating an enemy machinegun and routing the opposing force. While pursuing the fleeing enemy, the squad came upon a dirt road and, as the main body of his men entered the road, Sergeant Pierce discovered an antipersonnel mine emplaced in the road bed. Realizing that the mine could destroy the majority of his squad, Sergeant Pierce saved the lives of his men at the sacrifice of his life by throwing himself directly onto the mine as it exploded. Through his indomitable courage, complete disregard for his safety, and profound concern for his fellow soldiers, he averted loss of life and injury to the members of his squad. Sergeant Pierce’s extraordinary heroism, at the cost of his life, are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
General Orders: Department of the Army, General Orders No. 7 (February 24, 1966)
Action Date: 20-Sep-65
Posthumous promotion as indicated
Company: Headquarters & Headquarters Company
Battalion: 1st Battalion (Airborne)
Regiment: 503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade
Division: 173d Airborne Brigade
Staff Sergeant Larry Stanley Pierce was buried at Wasco Memorial Park in Wasco, California, where his wife and children were living at the time of his death.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.