Medal of Honor recipient recounts Battle of Ia Drang
Medal of Honor recipient Walter Joseph Marm, Jr. speaks during the 100th American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis, Minn., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018. Photo by Schelly Stone/The American Legion.

Medal of Honor recipient recounts Battle of Ia Drang

Medal of Honor recipient Walter Marm Jr. shared his story of valor Aug. 28 at The American Legion’s 100th National Convention in Minneapolis.

“It was a very intense battle,” Marm said of the Battle of Ia Drang, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. “We had tremendous support. It was a total team effort. The Air Force provided cover with about 100 airstrikes.”

Retired Army Col. Marm, a platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division, was awarded the medal for “demonstrated indomitable courage during a combat operation,” his citation reads. Marm led his platoon through heavy fire, killed four enemy soldiers and exposed himself to a concealed machine gun that was firing on his men. He charged the machine gun nest and took out eight more soldiers.

“1st Lt. Marm's selfless actions reduced the fire on his platoon, broke the enemy assault, and rallied his unit to continue toward the accomplishment of this mission,” his citation concludes.

He says the movie “We Were Soldiers,” which was based on the Battle of Ia Drang, is about 70 percent accurate.

Marm, who lives in North Carolina but is a 50-year member of American Legion Post 639 in Claysville, Pa., credits the other soldiers he served with. “We were an outstanding unit,” he said. “I am very fortunate to have served with the individuals in the unit that had been training for six months with the air assault team.”

Every day, Marm wears a reminder of those in his platoon. “It’s an honor for me to wear the medal,” Marm said. “I wear the medal for all the brave men and women I served with. I’m just the caretaker for them.”

Marm helped present The American Legion Spirit of Service awards to recipients on stage. Among the recipients was Molly Hampton, a Marine. She received the recognition for her volunteer work including her support of homeless veterans.

“I want to thank The American Legion for making it possible for me to be here today,” Hampton said, also thanking her dad for driving to Minneapolis just to see her receive the award. “I am honored to receive this Spirit of Service award but it does not end here. I will work hard each and every day and strive to be a better person for as long as I live.”