Posted: Oct 6, 2011 5:32 PM by Andy Koen
Updated: Oct 6, 2011 5:49 PM
For the first time in US Army history, the Medal of Honor has been presented to an army unit. When he passed away last October, First Sergeant David McNerney of Texas requested that his medal be given back to the men of the 4th Infantry Division. McNerney served with the 4th ID's 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment when he was awarded the medal in 1968.
Brigadier General James Doty, the Acting Senior Commander of Fort Carson said coordinating a proper ceremony for such an event was new territory.
"As far as we know, this is the first time that this sort of request has ever been done."
McNerney was originally from Massachusetts and joined the Navy during the Korean War. He was serving in his third of four tours in Vietnam in March of 1967 when he his company was ambushed by roughly 800 North Vietnamese Army soldiers.
"All the officers above him were killed or injured so badly they were taken out," his brother Richard McNerney recalled. "So, he was running his company."
McNerney assumed command, ordered air strikes, and cleared a helicopter landing site to evacuate the wounded. Though injured, he stayed with his men for a full day until another commander arrived.
Richard Sauer, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, was the only officer to survive.
"It was never about him, it was always about the men he served with," Sauer told the audience.
McNerney received the medal from President Lyndon Johnson in September of 1968. As part of Thursday's ceremony, each of the surviving members of his company passed his medal between themselves. It was then presented unit's current commander.
The medal is now on display at the Mountain Post Historical Center, a tribute to heroism of a brave sergeant and the legacy the 4th Infantry Division.