News: Medal of Honor recipient retires after 44 years of service
Story by Ferdinand Detres
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam War veteran retired from the active Army May 18, during a ceremony at the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Many were in attendance to honor Col. Gordon R. Roberts as he received his certificate of retirement from Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Dowd, 1st TSC, commanding general, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater).
“Thank you for all your service. You have touched the hearts and minds of the soldiers gathered here today,” said Dowd. “You have been a tremendous inspiration in our lives. We will always be grateful to you for your words, actions and contribution to this nation.”
Roberts was born June 14, 1950 in Lebanon, Ohio. He enlisted in the Army as an infantryman just three days after graduating high school in 1968. He served his initial active duty time until 1971, completing tours in Germany and South Vietnam.
Roberts later on received a direct commission in the Ohio Army National Guard in 1989. He re-entered active duty as Maj. Roberts in 1991.
It was during his time in South Vietnam that Roberts received the Medal of Honor for actions that took place July 11, 1969. He received the award March 2, 1971 from former President Richard Nixon.
Roberts received the award while serving under the 101st Airborne Division, 506th Infantry, 1st Battalion, B Company in the Republic of Vietnam. Then Sgt. Robert’s platoon was maneuvering along a ridge to attack heavily fortified enemy bunker positions which had pinned down an adjoining friendly company.
Roberts single handedly took out four enemy firing positions with his rifle and grenades. Although continually exposed to hostile fire, he assisted in moving wounded personnel from exposed positions on the hilltop to an evacuation area before returning to his unit.
This year was the monumental move out of Iraq and the largest self retrograde since the Vietnam War. It was during the 1st TSC’s deployments that Roberts led from the front, staying up late to ensure the mission was complete before the 11th hour. It was an honor to serve with him, said Dowd.
“I like to call him Gordo,” said Dowd. “He is a humble man who sees himself no different than any other soldier.”
Roberts gave thanks to family and friends for their dedication to his successful career.
“On May 27 it will be 44 years since I took that very first plane ride to Fort Benning, Ga.,” said Roberts. “It was a plane rider that never stopped."
Roberts recalled July 11, 1969 in Vietnam when his captain motivated him with the words, “We get to the top of the hill tonight or we’ll bury them in the morning.”
“I served with so many great soldiers over time,” said Roberts. “I have to thank my family and friends for everything they have done in my absence. They have also carried the burdens of this nation.”
Roberts notes that he has had so much pride in serving with each and every soldier in his career.
Roberts had three things he wanted soldiers to remember from his 44 year career.
“You are no better than your next award. The leader is the first one that moves. If you never quit, the other guy eventually will,” said Roberts.
Now that he has retired, Roberts plans to spend time working on the home he and his wife Alissa Roberts purchased.
“My husband does not plan on going back to work in a paid position at this time. He will be very busy working around our home,” said Mrs. Roberts. “We have a historical home that we have been slowly renovating.”
Roberts said going to watch his daughter play softball at Appalachian State will be his top priority.