STAMFORD, CT (January 17th, 2011) Paul W. Bucha of Ridgefield, CT was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving as a captain and commanding officer of Company D, 3rd Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, on March 18, 1968 in Vietnam.
Mr. Bucha, a graduate of West Point and former President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, says about Homer L. Wise:
"It is important that among the celebrities for whom we name parks and streets, there are those we also honor who come from everyday America, living anonymously among us, until that mysterious confluence of time and circumstances places them one day in a position where they can see fate has it will be; unless they and they alone reach down within themselves for that hidden potential that resides within each of us, old or young, rich or poor, black or white, male or female, a potential that can literally challenge destiny and change the world.
Such a man was Homer Wise until June 14, 1944, on a hillside in Italy; he found himself needing to act to save himself and his men and he did. And the rest is history.
Men and women like Homer Wise, common everyday people who one day do something extraordinary that literally changes history, remind us each day that each of us if so called upon can find with ourselves the power to challenge destiny and by that power we can change the world."
The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc. is in the process of raising funds to erect a bronze statue in Stamford, CT of Master Sergeant Homer L. Wise awarded the Medal of Honor on June 14, 1944. Sergeant Wise was one of the most decorated infantrymen of World War II. He served in Italy and France and was a member of Company L, 142d Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.
The following is official citation signed by President Richard M. Nixon during the presentation of the Medal of Honor to Captain Bucha on May 14, 1970:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Bucha distinguished himself while serving as commanding officer, Company D, on a reconnaissance-in-force mission against enemy forces near Phuoc Vinh, The company was inserted by helicopter into the suspected enemy stronghold to locate and destroy the enemy.
During this period Capt. Bucha aggressively and courageously led his men in the destruction of enemy fortifications and base areas and eliminated scattered resistance impeding the advance of the company. On 18 March while advancing to contact, the lead elements of the company became engaged by the heavy automatic weapon, heavy machine gun, rocket propelled grenade, Claymore mine and small-arms fire of an estimated battalion-size force.
Capt. Bucha, with complete disregard for his safety, moved to the threatened area to direct the defense and ordered reinforcements to the aid of the lead element. Seeing that his men were pinned down by heavy machine gun fire from a concealed bunker located some 40 meters to the front of the positions, Capt. Bucha crawled through the hail of fire to single-handedly destroy the bunker with grenades.
During this heroic action Capt. Bucha received a painful shrapnel wound. Returning to the perimeter, he observed that his unit could not hold its positions and repel the human wave assaults launched by the determined enemy. Capt. Bucha ordered the withdrawal of the unit elements and covered the withdrawal to positions of a company perimeter from which he could direct fire upon the charging enemy. When 1 friendly element retrieving casualties was ambushed and cut off from the perimeter, Capt. Bucha ordered them to feign death and he directed artillery fire around them.
During the night Capt. Bucha moved throughout the position, distributing ammunition, providing encouragement and insuring the integrity of the defense. He directed artillery, helicopter gunship and Air Force gunship fire on the enemy strong points and attacking forces, marking the positions with smoke grenades. Using flashlights in complete view of enemy snipers, he directed the medical evacuation of 3 air-ambulance loads of seriously wounded personnel and the helicopter supply of his company.
At daybreak Capt. Bucha led a rescue party to recover the dead and wounded members of the ambushed element.
During the period of intensive combat, Capt. Bucha, by his extraordinary heroism, inspirational example, outstanding leadership and professional competence, led his company in the decimation of a superior enemy force which left 156 dead on the battlefield.
His bravery and gallantry at the risk of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service, Capt. Bucha has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Excerpt from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (CMOHS)