Host Ed Sutkowski talks with Harold Fritz, Lieutenant Colonel in th 11th Armored Cavalry, and Medal of Honor Recipient during the Vietnam War.
Lieutenant Colonel Fritz, the recipient of two Purple Hearts, one Silver Star and the Congressional Medal of Honor, detailed his near death experiences in Vietnam. On January 11, 1969 – the year of Super Bowl III when the Jets defeated the Colts – while serving as a platoon leader of a 7 vehicle armored column, Fritz was the subject of intense crossfire from approximately 220 North Vietnamese. His 28 member platoon was reduced to 5; the reduced number caused the enemy to abandon its efforts. Fritz, one of approximately 3,600 Medal of Honor recipients (40+ million soldiers have served since the Civil War), described the Medal of Honor award ceremony, the role of a cigarette lighter given to him by his spouse and the surreal experience – returning the grade school and seeing the bullets slowly rotated followed by vapor streams — when faced with rocket-propelled grenades and bullets approaching his chest.
Lieutenant Colonel Fritz’s Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. (then 1st Lt.) Fritz, Armor, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader with Troop A, near Quan Loi. Capt. Fritz was leading his 7-vehicle armored column along Highway 13 to meet and escort a truck convoy when the column suddenly came under the intense crossfire from a reinforced enemy company deployed in ambush positions. In the initial attack, Capt. Fritz’ vehicle was hit and he was seriously wounded. Realizing that his platoon was completely surrounded, vastly outnumbered, and in danger of being overrun, Capt. Fritz leaped to the top of his burning vehicle and directed the positioning of his remaining vehicles and men. With complete disregard for his wounds and safety, he ran from vehicle to vehicle in complete view of the enemy gunners in order to reposition his men, to improve the defenses, to assist the wounded, to distribute ammunition, to direct fire, and to provide encouragement to his men. When a strong enemy force assaulted the position and attempted to overrun the platoon, Capt. Fritz manned a machine gun and through his exemplary action inspired his men to deliver intense and deadly fire which broke the assault and routed the attackers. Moments later a second enemy force advanced to within 2 meters of the position and threatened to overwhelm the defenders. Capt. Fritz, armed only with a pistol and bayonet, led a small group of his men in a fierce and daring charge which routed the attackers and inflicted heavy casualties. When a relief force arrived, Capt. Fritz saw that it was not deploying effectively against the enemy positions, and he moved through the heavy enemy fire to direct its deployment against the hostile positions. This deployment forced the enemy to abandon the ambush site and withdraw. Despite his wounds, Capt. Fritz returned to his position, assisted his men, and refused medical attention until all of his wounded comrades had been treated and evacuated. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Capt. Fritz, at the repeated risk of his own life above and beyond the cal of duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect the greatest credit upon himself, his unit, and the Armed Forces.”