The Viet Nam War was costly, confusing and fundamentally insane. Even so, in the midst of that insanity (and perhaps because of that insanity) we sometimes caught glimpses of individual conduct that was so profound, persistent and incomprehensible that the only word left to describe that individual was “hero”. Even if you hated that war, and hated the military–even if you fought for the Viet Cong–even if you hate Mexican-Americans–you’ve go to admit that Master Sargent Raul (Roy) Perez Benavidez (August 5, 1935 – November 29, 1998) was a “hero”. And not just once, but for much of his life.
A lot of people are called heroes, but they aren’t. They may have done something remarkable once or even twice in their lives, but that’s usually as far as their heroics go. They save someone else’s life. The media hypes them as “heroes”. But they usually deny being heroes and they’re usually right.
Master Sargent Benavidez demonstrated his courage on several occasions where he might’ve been killed–and was, in fact, repeatedly wounded so badly that he should’ve died. On one occasion, he was wounded so badly that, although he was conscious, he couldn’t speak or move to signal that he was alive. The medics thought he was dead, placed him in a body bag, and were closing the zipper when one of his friends forced a doctor to feel Benevidez’ heart, recognize his pulse and realize that he was still alive.
Can you imagine being so badly wounded–and yet aware–that you were being zipped up into a body bag?
There’s something about real heroes that’s incomprehensible to the rest of us. You can see their heroics, but you can’t understand them. Real heroes inspires awe.
If there are such things as “heroes,” Master Sargent Roy Benavidez was one.
If you ever dreamed of being a man, Benavidez’ story might make your eyes mist over. He’s the real deal.