Setting an example

Decorated colonel talks courage at Seymour High School
Nov. 15, 2012 @ 06:10 PM

One of only 80 living recipients of this nation’s highest military honor spoke to Seymour High School students Tuesday regarding a program that teaches students lessons in courage.

Bruce P. Crandall, a retired U.S. Army colonel who served in the Vietnam War, received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007 for his actions during the Battle of la Drang, the first major battle of the Vietnam War, during which he flew 22 missions in an unarmed helicopter into enemy fire to evacuate over 70 wounded soldiers and drop ammunition and supplies.

It’s that kind of courage and selflessness the Medal of Honor Foundation hopes to instill in younger generations of American citizens, whether they join the service or not, through its Character Development Program being taught at Seymour High School and other schools across the country.

“I didn’t fear dying so much as I feared having someone else die because of me,” Crandall said. “Ten years from now there should be a dozen (recipients of the Medal of Honor) left. ... What we plan on is to leave a legacy in this Character Development Program that will live on long after we are gone.”

George Silvey, county representative for Jostens who is involved in the Medal of Honor Convention of 2014, said everyone has the ability to be a hero, and the aim of the program is to bring out that courage.

“The goal ... is to perpetuate, protect and preserve all the ideals and characteristics of the Medal of Honor,” he said. “The program teaches ordinary students that you can meet and overcome great challenges. ... The overriding message is that everyone has the capacity to be a hero, and the courage to do the right thing.”

The six ideals of the Medal of Honor are courage, commitment, sacrifice, patriotism, integrity and citizenship. Through this program, students can explore these ideals and relate them to everyday life.

“That’s what the Medal of Honor is all about,” Silvey said.

Crandall said the group wishes to keep the all-volunteer aspect of the military.

“The way we do that is to treat our soldiers with respect, treat their families with respect, and have them keep treating each other with respect,” he said. “We, as a group, are not out to recruit ... however, we do believe in service.”

But if anyone in the crowd was thinking of joining the military, Crandall stressed not to join for a love of combat.

“No soldier likes combat. I don’t want somebody in my outfit who likes to shoot,” Crandall said. “If you think that’s what you want to do in the service, don’t join.

“Peace is a hope we all strive for.”