BY DUANE ALLEN VACHON, PH.D. Have discovered another characteristic that the heroes I write about in these articles share selflessness. I am thinking of selflessness as an adjective, someone who has little or no concern for themselves, especially regarding fame, position, or money and is always more concerned with others wellbeing than their own.
Molnar joined the Army from Fresno, California in 1962, and by May 20, 1967 was serving as a Staff Sergeant in Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. During an enemy assault on that day, in Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, Molnar organized his squad’s defense and, when a grenade landed among them, he smothered the blast with his body at the expense of his life.
Molnar was a real hometown hero. He was not a famous athlete or a powerful political figure; instead, he was just an average guy, who cared about his fellow man. He was born to Paul Molnar and Margaret Puskas on February 14, 1943 in Logan County, West Virginia. Molnar’s parents named him after his Uncle Zoltan Puskas, who was killed in the Black Forest of Germany during World War II. The courage of Uncle Zoltan Puskas was passed onto Molnar. His selfless character was molded while growing up with his big family in West Virginia, which included his seven siblings Margaret, Ann, Mary, Paul, John, Gaza and Yolanda. The family eventually would spread out across the nation in many different states, including California, Missouri, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas.
When Molnar grew older, he moved to Fresno, California, where he entered the United States Army. He served in Company B of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, and during his time with his unit, he achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant. Molnar showed leadership in the service by demonstrating that he put the interest of his men before himself. He knew that the unit as a whole was more important than his own life because he was just one man. He proved his commitment to his fellow soldier’s lives when the enemy attacked his unit on that fateful day in May..
While serving as squad leader during combat operations in Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, the enemy’s mortar fire attacked the squad’s defensive perimeter. The attack was a prelude to the enormous night attack that followed. Molnar left the safety of his location to crawl to his squad to ready them for the attack. During his journey to the squad, he spotted the enemy closing in on them. Through his accurate aim, he was able to kill five enemy soldiers and force the rest to fall back. The enemy then attacked with grenades, rockets and automatic weapons, but Molnar was able to help his squad hold them off. Because they used much of their ammunition supply, Molnar left his safe position to secure additional ammunition. After returning with the additional ammunition, he continued to help his squad fight the enemy, while providing medical care to the wounded. When he tried to move a severely wounded soldier with the help of other men, the enemy threw a grenade into the group. Molnar was the first to see the grenade and without concern for his own life, he threw himself on the grenade, saving the lives of his fellow comrades.
Molnar, was 24 at his death, he was survived by his wife Sharon Kay of Canada and his one-month year old baby girl Michelle, whom he never saw.
Medal of Honor citation
Staff Sergeant Molnar’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Molnar distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with Company B, during combat operations. Shortly after the battalion’s defensive perimeter was established, it was hit by intense mortar fire as the prelude to a massive enemy night attack. S/Sgt. Molnar immediately left his sheltered location to insure the readiness of his squad to meet the attack. As he crawled through the position, he discovered a group of enemy soldiers closing in on his squad area. His accurate rifle fire killed 5 of the enemy and forced the remainder to flee. When the mortar fire stopped, the enemy attacked in a human wave supported by grenades, rockets, automatic weapons, and small-arms fire. After assisting to repel the first enemy assault, S/Sgt. Molnar found that his squad’s ammunition and grenade supply was nearly expended. Again leaving the relative safety of his position, he crawled through intense enemy fire to secure additional ammunition and distribute it to his squad. He rejoined his men to beat back the renewed enemy onslaught, and he moved about his area providing medical aid and assisting in the evacuation of the wounded. With the help of several men, he was preparing to move a severely wounded soldier when an enemy hand grenade was thrown into the group. The first to see the grenade, S/Sgt. Molnar threw himself on it and absorbed the deadly blast to save his comrades. His demonstrated selflessness and inspirational leadership on the battlefield were a major factor in the successful defense of the American position and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Army. S/Sgt. Molnar’s actions reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
//Richard M. Nixon// President
“We draw comfort from the thought that his actions may have spared other families from experiencing the tragic loss of a loved one. Frankie’s smile and laughter will always be with us as we pass all of our fond memories of him on to our children.” Gaza Molnar, Molnar’s Brother
Molnar is buried at Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery Pecks Mill Logan County West Virginia, USA Plot: Everlasting Life Section, Lot 18.
This article is not just about Frankie Molnar. It’s also about Michelle Molnar who never knew her father. He didn’t walk her down the aisle at her wedding, he didn’t attend her graduation, and he wasn’t a grandfather to her children.
The next time you hold your grandchild’s hand or go to a graduation spare a thought for Michelle and the thousands like her who are victims of the Vietnam War and say a quiet thank you for the servicemen and women like Molnar who have paid the price for our freedom and those left behind who continue to pay the price.
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.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.
Author: Duane Vachon
Duane A. Vachon PhD has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over thirty years. He belongs to the order of Secular Franciscans and is a life member of the Guild of Pastoral Psychology. After living almost 40 years as an expatriate, he now writes from his home in Hawaii. He has several books published and has written hundreds of articles on social justice and spiritual issues. His Doctoral thesis on ethics has set the standard at many universities. Reach Dr. Vachon at firstname.lastname@example.org
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