Review Legend (the tale of Roy Benavidez)

Devildoc

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#1
I just finished Legend: The Incredible Story of Special Forces Sergeant Roy Benavidez's Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behind Enemy Lines. It's a long title and it would not all fit into the threat title above.

This book leaves me feeling....small. Benavidez's biography of a small-town kid who worked hard but seemed to learn many values the hard way before morphing into an exemplary NCO in the Army is in and of itself is a good story. One could learn a lot from his childhood and early years in the Army, as well as learn life-lessons on what a good NCO is. That alone, up to his second tour in Vietnam, would have been a good book.

Then came "the mission." For anyone with an interest in special operations in Vietnam, MACV-SOG, Special Forces, this book is a must-read. It goes into a world that was off-limits until ostensibly the late-70s and not fully "open" until the 80s, recognizing the heroic nature of the SOG teams. But even beyond that, as has been pointed out in another thread on this forum regarding the "enablers" for the pointy end of the spear, this book truly underscores the importance of those who make it happen, especially the aircrews. Much of this book is about them as it is about Benavidez and "the mission", and gave me an incredible insight into that aspect of the secret war.

The section of the book highlighting "the mission" was an extremely fast read and really drives home that at the end of the day in any war, it's about the man next to you. That Benavidez jumped onto a helo with nothing more than a med bag with no thought of himself, then jumping off that helo into a hot (understatement) LZ and sustaining what should have been life-ending injuries is THE foundation of this book. If one does not read it without a measure of awe or reverence then shame on you. His actions on the ground, as President Reagan inferred, was the stuff of movies (actually Reagan said that if it was a movie script you wouldn't believe it), and resulted in the successful rescue of the SOG team that was in peril. I felt small, sitting in the shadows of giants (not only Benavidez but the team and all of the aircrews). It puts honor, courage, all of those platitudes we so easily say, into rightful perspective.

Naturally the book discusses the political nature of the military award system, the secrecy of SOG, and why it took so long for Benavidez to receive the Medal of Honor. None of those aspects comes as a surprise to any of us who have seen the system at work.

I am a hard man. I did not cry at either of my parents' funerals, when I was 8 at my father's funeral or when I was 37 at my mother's. This book moved me. I listen to coworkers talk about teamwork from the perspective of covering meal breaks, I read in this book about teamwork in terms I could hardly understand. Perhaps the last paragraph best describes the book: when the author was talking with Chris Kyle, who was uncomfortable with being called a "hero," the author asked if Kyle had heard of Benavidez. He replied, "Now THAT guy is a legend."
 

Ooh-Rah

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#5
Thank you for posting this. I devour every book from that era I can get my hands on; regret that I am not yet aware of this man.

That shall be remedied post-haste.
 

Devildoc

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#7
He was truly legendary.

Read also about Capt. Robert Howard, MACV-SOG, MOH, another amazing soldier. They were some awesome dudes.

Robert L. Howard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
When I was a kid, in the early 80s, I had a friend in Fayetteville, last name Barcena (of Cuban decent), whose dad was an officer at SWC. I was hanging out with my pal Luis and we stopped by there with his mom, I met COL. Howard. Of course, I was, what, 14, maybe 15, so I had no idea who he actually was.

The list of MOH recipients that were with SOG and the missions that garnered the awards are simply phenomenal.
 

Ocoka

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#8
When I was a kid, in the early 80s, I had a friend in Fayetteville, last name Barcena (of Cuban decent), whose dad was an officer at SWC. I was hanging out with my pal Luis and we stopped by there with his mom, I met COL. Howard. Of course, I was, what, 14, maybe 15, so I had no idea who he actually was.

The list of MOH recipients that were with SOG and the missions that garnered the awards are simply phenomenal.
They were some extraordinary men
 
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x SF med

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#11

Ooh-Rah

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#12
What an amazing book this is turning out to be. This paragraph made me pause, I bet the pilots believed this then. Have to wonder if they still do today, a shame.

“Each pilot and crewman had also signed an affidavit when they started flying for B-56 that stated they understood that they could not speak or write about anything they heard or did for thirty years. Any slips or leaks would be considered treason and would result in a dishonorable discharge, a ten-thousand-dollar fine, and a long trip to Kansas, with room and board at Fort Leavenworth military prison.”
 
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