On 24 October 2015, the lost military medals of Vietnam hero Sergeant First (SFC) Class Grayson Jerald West were returned to his son at the American Airlines Sky Ball XIII event held at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, American Airlines Hangar 5 on 28th Street.
Sergeant First Class Grayson Jerald West (RA: 17198591) was born 25 February 1928 in Webster City, Iowa. West would later join the United States Army and served in both Korea and Vietnam. During his service in Vietnam, he was a Green Beret assigned to Team Alpha 106 of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) as a Heavy Weapons Sergeant.
On 16 December 1965, while serving as a senior advisor to a sixty-man Civilian Irregular Defense Group reconnaissance patrol in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam, his patrol base, which was located on top of a hill, was attacked by an estimated two Viet Cong Companies under the cover of intense mortar and automatic weapons fire. Although he was wounded in the chest, West exposed himself to the devastating fire and attempted to rally his patrol to form a defensive perimeter. Despite the fact that he was in severe pain from multiple wounds, he personally moved from man to man to direct the fire against the insurgent assault. He eventually ordered the marine corpsman who was treating his wounds and the rest of his men to escape while they could. When he was last seen, Sergeant West, who was by now so weak that he couldn’t stand, was still directing resistance against the Viet Cong and aiding his comrades escape. Sergeant West never made it off the hill that day and for his sacrifice, was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star. He is buried in Raleigh National Cemetery, NC, Section 14, Site 1182.
His awards and decorations consist of the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal (3rd Award), Army of Occupation Medal w/ German Clasp, National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 Bronze Service Star, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal w/ 2 Bronze Service Star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/ 1 Bronze Service Star, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation, WWII Victory Medal, Master Parachute Badge, Combat Infantry Badge, and Special Forces Tab.
The medals were discovered by Mr. Don Griffin in a storage unit in North Carolina. He quickly reached out to Purple Hearts Reunited for assistance in locating the family.
Receiving the medal was SFC West’s son, Roger West from El Cajon, CA. Presenting the medal was the son of a former Vietnam Green Beret, Mr. Scott Carter Stephens. Purple Hearts Reunited returned his father’s medals last December in Dallas, TX.