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  Transcripts

Special Event

President Clinton Awards Alfred Rascon the Medal of Honor

Aired February 8, 2000 - 2:47 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go over to the White House where the citation is being read just before the presentation of the Medal of Honor to Alfred Rascon at the White House by the president of the United States. Let's listen.

(UNKNOWN): ... and a serious wound to the hip.

Ignoring his own wounds, he dragged the largest soldier from the fire-raked trail. Hearing a second machine gunner yell that he was running out of ammunition, Specialist 4 Rascon, still under heavy enemy fire, crawled back to the wounded machine gunner, stripped him of his bandoleers of ammunition, and gave them to the machine gunner, who continued his suppressive fire.

Later, Specialist 4 Rascon, fearing the abandoned machine gun, its ammunition and spare barrel, would fall into enemy hands, made his way back to retrieve them.

On his way, he was wounded in the face and torso by grenade fragments, but continued to recover the abandoned machine gun, ammunition and spare barrel, enabling another soldier to provide added suppressive fire to the pinned down squad.

While searching for additional wounded, he saw the point grenadier wounded by small arms fire and grenades. With complete disregard for his own life, Specialist 4 Rascon covered the wounded soldier with his body, thereby absorbing the blasts from the exploding grenades and saved the soldier's life.

As grenades were being thrown at the wounded point squad leader, Specialist 4 Rascon -- again, in complete disregard for his own life -- covered the soldier with his body, absorbing the full force of the grenade explosions.

Once more, Specialist 4 Rascon was critically wounded by shrapnel, but again, he continued to search for and aid the wounded. Although severely wounded, he remained on the battlefield, inspiring his fellow soldiers to continue the battle.

After the enemy broke contact, he disregarded aid for himself and continued treating the wounded and directing their evacuation. Only after being placed in the evacuation helicopter did he allow aid to be given to himself. Specialist 4 Rascon's extraordinary valor in the face of deadly enemy fire, his heroism in rescuing the wounded, and his gallantry by repeatedly risking his own life for his fellow soldiers are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

(APPLAUSE)

WATERS: Well, you heard the biggest part of the citation. Alfred Rascon, while operating as a medic in the Vietnam War in 1966, risked his own life to save others, threw himself over the bodies of wounded comrades to help them avoid the shrapnel from tossed grenades. He was severely wounded in the process. Today, 34 years later, because his recommendation had gotten lost somewhere in the bureaucracy, he receives his Medal of Honor -- Alfred Rascon.

ALFRED RASCON, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: Thank you very much.

The honor is not really mine. It ends up being those who were with me that day.

Mr. President, thank you very much for giving me at least a couple of seconds to thank those who were with me that day.

Would my recon platoons please stand up?

(APPLAUSE)

What you see before you is common valor that was done every day, and those of you who served in the military and continue to serve in the military are very much aware of that.

What you do every day, it is duty, honor and country. And I'm deeply grateful to be here.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

WATERS: Short, but sweet: a man who says he does not deserve the honor. The folks that he saved on the battlefield disagree with him, and he has received his award today from the president of the United States, awarding the Medal of Honor to Alfred Rascon.

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