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Medal of Honor recipient comes to CSU-Pueblo memorial

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The memorial on the campus of CSU-Pueblo has drawn in various people from all around since it became part of the campus. Photo from Ye Ming.
Colorado State University-Pueblo honored armed forces veterans by gathering students, faculty, staff and community members at the South East Asia Memorial, Nov.12.

This Veterans Day marked the second commemoration of the memorial since it was reconstructed and rededicated in November 2011. The celebration was very similar to that of last year, although the turnout was not the same.

When the Memorial was rededicated last year it there was hardly room to sit on the grass that lined the Occhiato University Center. This year, a lot of people stood around on the grass. However, there were many empty seats.

It didn’t seem to matter how many people were present to the vets or to those who attended. What seemed to matter was giving their respect to those that passed and being thankful for the opportunity to serve.

Veterans from different branches were dressed in the various uniforms and stood to applaud Drew Dix, a Medal of Honor recipient.

Dix, raised in Pueblo, is one of only four men to receive a Medal of Honor in Pueblo, out of the estimated 3,500 awarded. Dix, who enlisted into the 5th Special Forces group at 21, served in the Vietnam War, according to PBS.org’s “Stories of American Valor.”

Dix was awarded the Medal of Honor due to his actions on Jan. 31, 1968 and Feb. 1, 1968. On Jan. 31, 1968, Dix and a patrol of Vietnamese soldiers were recalled to aid in defense of Châu Phú, a province in Vietnam, after two heavily armed Viet Cong battalions attacked the province capital, according to the Special Operation’s Memorial website.

Dix rescued a nurse trapped near the center of the city and returned her safely to the Tactical Operations Center. Dix made a second trip into the city to rescue eight civilian employees trapped in a building that was under heavy fire. Later, Dix returned to be subjected to intense automatic rifle and machine gun fire from a Viet Cong groups, but managed to rescue two Filipinos, also stated on somf.org.

Dix later inspired Republic of Vietnam soldiers to take up arms against the Viet Cong forces after he assembled a 20-man force and cleared the Viet Cong out of the hotel, theater and other buildings in the city, while under extreme fire. Through exhibiting tremendous courage and bravery, Dix saved 14 U.S. and free world citizens, according to somf.org.

During his speech to the Memorial attendees, Dix did not once talk about his personal bravery, but instead encouraged those attending to support the troops that are active duty and are still at war.

“Those that are sitting with us now need to thank those active duty military because they are doing one hell of a job. I visit with them often and I want to pass on to you that they are ready for the job and they are committed,” Dix said.

“As long as we can send them over there we need to be behind them and be ready for them when they get back,” he added.

Near the end of the celebration, the CSU-Pueblo Jazz choir sang “God Bless America” as wreaths lay on the walls of the memorial, followed by the Doss Aviation team doing their last fly overs in recognition of those who were lost at battle.