In a single day, Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady rescued nearly 100 seriously wounded men from embattled landing zones covered with thick fog and smoke in the Republic of Vietnam. For his valiant actions, Brady was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration for valor, on Oct. 9, 1969. Now, Hillsdale will have the opportunity to hear Brady speak on Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in honor of Veteran’s Day.
In his talk, Brady will discuss the leadership and exceptionalism of America’s veterans.
Brady’s visit to campus will be the first time that a modern-day Medal of Honor recipient speaks at Hillsdale College.
Associate Professor of Management Peter Jennings served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a military officer and said Brady will give the audience a sense of the Vietnam War and the people who served in the war. More importantly, however, Jennings said he thinks Brady’s talk will help the audience understand patriotism as a virtue.
“The year he was awarded the Medal of Honor was the same year that the protests and the flag burning started escalating,” Jennings said. “As in the ’60s, there’s a significant percentage of our population that thinks America is just a bad country for a number of reasons. Gen. Brady has lived through all of that, and he has some important insights about this country.”
Jennings said Medal of Honor recipients have merited honor and are deserving of the nation’s respect because their actions go beyond what is expected of a soldier’s commitment to duty. A soldier, Jennings said, commits himself to serve a higher calling and accepts the risk of losing his life anytime he enters combat.
Each military medal includes a citation that describes the actions for which the recipient is awarded the medal.
“This medal is the only medal that in the citation uses the phrase ‘above and beyond the call of duty,’” Jennings said. “That phraseology — that language — is only used in this medal. Nobody could order the soldier to perform the actions that he or she did that earned them this medal. They’re above duty; they’re the kind of action that you cannot order somebody to do.”
According to the National Medal of Honor Museum Website, Brady flew over 2,000 combat missions and rescued over 5,000 injured soldiers during his two tours in Vietnam. During one of his missions that earned him his medal, Brady “was requested to land in an enemy mine field where a platoon of American soldiers was trapped. A mine detonated near his helicopter, wounding two crewmembers and damaging his ship,” according to his Medal of Honor citation.
Three Hillsdale College alumni were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the Civil War: Maj. Gen. Frank D. Baldwin, 1st Lt. Cornelius Hadley, and Sgt. Moses A. Luce.
Baldwin, who was awarded the medal twice, according to the Hillsdale College Digital Archives, “was stationed out west during the Indian Wars and was the first man to be awarded a Medal of Honor in two different conflicts. His second Medal of Honor was awarded for the rescue of kidnapped girls in 1874.”
Michael Murray, who works in Institutional Advancement for Hillsdale College, served in the Marine Corps and said that Medal of Honor recipients make up a small fraternity of individuals within the military.
“They’re cut from a different cloth,” Murray said. “And that’s why I think Gen. Brady’s talk presents a unique opportunity for students.”
Both Jennings and Murray pointed out that a majority of Medal of Honors are awarded posthumously, so the opportunity to hear from Brady is a rare experience.
Associate Dean of Men Chief Jeffrey Rogers served as a corpsman in the Marine Corps and said Brady is a quintessential example of a hero.
“No greater love than has one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends — Jesus did that for us,” Rogers said. “Here’s a guy who literally was going to lay his life down. He survived to help others and give others life.”
Rogers said he looks forward to meeting Brady and learning from his experiences.
“I know it’s busy, students get busy, there’s so many opportunities here with different speakers coming in, and you have to study, but this is one of those things where you should take the time to put this on your calendar,” Rogers said.