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Nicky Daniel Bacon
November 25, 1945(1945-11-25) – July 17, 2010 (aged 64)
File:Nick  File:Cmoh
Nick Bacon just after receiving his Medal of Honor from President Richard Nixon in 1969.
Place of birth Caraway, Arkansas
Place of death Rose Bud, Arkansas
Place of burial Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery
North Little Rock
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch File:USArmy United States Army
Years of service 1963–1984
Rank File:US Army E-8 First Sergeant
Unit File:Americal Americal Division
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with Valor device (2)
Purple Heart (2)
Army Commendation Medal (4)
Good Conduct Medal (7)
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
NCO Professional Development Ribbon (4)
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon (2)
Combat Infantryman Badge
Recruiter Badge
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross

Nicky Daniel "Nick" Bacon (November 25, 1945 – July 17, 2010) was a United States Army first sergeant from the Americal Division who served during the Vietnam War. For his actions in combat in Tam Ky, Vietnam, Bacon was awarded America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.

Contents

Early life

Bacon was born in Caraway, Arkansas, on November 25, 1945, one of nine children. His parents, Johno and Beta Imogene "Jean" (Meadows) Bacon, were sharecroppers on a cotton farm. His siblings were sisters Jenny, Brenda, Judy, Hope, and Wanda and brothers Doyle, Johno Jr., and Andy. In 1951, a poor farming economy prompted the family to move to Glendale, Arizona, where Johno Bacon's parents lived. Nicky Bacon grew up driving tractors and picking cotton on the ranch where his father worked. He dropped out of Peoria High School to work full time to support the family when his father contracted polio, although he later earned a GED. "I hated picking cotton and that other stuff," he later said. "I've done my share of it. And I'll guarantee you one thing: I've never, ever went back to it once I was old enough to hold a man's job." [1][2]

Military service

In 1963, at age 17, Bacon forged his mother's signature to enlist in the U.S. Army. After basic training at Fort Ord in California, he was stationed in Worms, Germany. Of his military service Bacon later said, "I was never prouder, I was never in better shape, I was never more sure that I stood for something in my life than I was when I wore the uniform." He served his first tour of Vietnam in 1966 during which he was wounded three times. On his first mission in Vietnam, the helicopter he was riding in collided with another, killing everyone except Bacon and one other soldier.[1][2][3]

Bacon volunteered to serve a second combat tour in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. He reached the rank of staff sergeant while serving with Company B, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 11th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. On August 26, 1968, while leading a squad in Bravo Company's 1st Platoon, in an operation west of Tam Kỳ, Bacon and his unit came under fire from enemy positions. While Bacon destroyed these positions with hand grenades, his platoon leader was wounded in open ground. Assuming command, Bacon led the platoon in destroying still more enemy emplacements.[4]

When the 3rd Platoon lost its leader, Bacon took command of that platoon as well and led both platoons against the remaining enemy positions. During the evacuation of the wounded, Bacon climbed the side of a nearby tank to gain a vantage point and direct fire into enemy positions, despite his exposure to enemy fire. "I got my boot heel shot off, I got holes in my canteens, I got my rifle grip shot up," he recalled in "Beyond Glory," a 2003 book by Larry Smith of history interviews with Medal of Honor recipients. "I got shrapnel holes in my camouflage covers, and bullets in my pot. A bullet creased the edge of it, tore the lining off." He was personally credited with killing at least 4 enemy soldiers and destroying an antitank gun.[2][4]

For his actions in this battle, Bacon received the Medal of Honor. The medal was formally presented to him by President Richard Nixon during a 1969 White House ceremony.[1] For his service in Vietnam and throughout his career, he also received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Heart medals (one awarded later in 2008 due to an administrative oversight) and numerous other awards and decorations. "Did I enjoy combat? Yeah. I enjoyed the game," Bacon said in the "Beyond Glory" interview. "I was good at it."[2][3][5][6][7]

Bacon requested a third tour of duty in Vietnam but was denied. He instead served as a reenlistment noncommissioned officer at Fort Hood, Texas, was stationed in Gussen, Germany, and worked in the training command at Fort McClellan, Alabama, before retiring in June 1984 as a first sergeant. He chose to retire from the military when he received orders to go to Korea. He was newly married to his second wife and had a young son. "When I was young, it was fun traveling and having new adventures," he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 1997. "But I didn't want to start over again with raising a family back home and being halfway around the world myself. As you get older, you would like to think of yourself as tough and that you could still strap it all on and head for the boonies, but you can't do that . . . Wars are fought by young men." [1][2][3]

Later years

[[File:|thumb|Nick Bacon in 2005 while Director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs]] Bacon had six children, daughters Kristy and Kim and sons William, James, Wyatt, and Britt.[1][3]

After his military retirement, Bacon returned with his wife, Tamera Ann, to Arizona and worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs at their Phoenix regional office. While there, he was the co-originator of the Med-Vet Healthcare Program in Phoenix and participated in John McCain's 1986 political campaign in which McCain was first elected to the U.S. Senate. Bacon later served as town manager for the Phoenix suburb of Surprise.[3][7][8]

In 1990, Bacon moved back to Arkansas and lived in the town of Rose Bud. He was appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs by Governor Jim Guy Tucker in April 1993 and served until his final retirement in February 2005. During his tenure, he helped establish the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery and the Arkansas Veterans Coalition. He “considered the cemetery one of his greatest accomplishments” according to his brother John.[3][8]

Bacon was part of the official United States delegation to normalize relations with Vietnam in 1995 and traveled to Israel in the late 1990s on behalf of Jewish veterans to urge the Israeli government not to cede the Golan Heights to Syria. He later served as president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Chair Emeritus of the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security. Bacon was also inducted into the Military Police Hall of Fame at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.[2][5][9][10]

In 2004, Bacon was appointed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, an independent, 13-member panel charged with studying the military's system of compensating veterans for injuries to ensure that it was equitable and fair. The commission issued its final report, which made more than 100 recommendations, in 2007. He also served on the President’s National Hire Veterans Committee and the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission.[2][7]

Bacon died on the morning of July 17, 2010, after a long battle with cancer. He was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the state of Arkansas. His burial took place with full military honors at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock on July 24.[8]

Medal of Honor citation

File:NIck Bacon
Arkansas Medal of Honor Memorial

Bacon's official citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Bacon distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Company B, during an operation west of Tam Ky. When Company B came under fire from an enemy bunker line to the front, S/Sgt. Bacon quickly organized his men and led them forward in an assault. He advanced on a hostile bunker and destroyed it with grenades. As he did so, several fellow soldiers including the 1st Platoon leader, were struck by machine gun fire and fell wounded in an exposed position forward of the rest of the platoon. S/Sgt. Bacon immediately assumed command of the platoon and assaulted the hostile gun position, finally killing the enemy gun crew in a single-handed effort. When the 3d Platoon moved to S/Sgt. Bacon's location, its leader was also wounded. Without hesitation S/Sgt. Bacon took charge of the additional platoon and continued the fight. In the ensuing action he personally killed 4 more enemy soldiers and silenced an antitank weapon. Under his leadership and example, the members of both platoons accepted his authority without question. Continuing to ignore the intense hostile fire, he climbed up on the exposed deck of a tank and directed fire into the enemy position while several wounded men were evacuated. As a result of S/Sgt. Bacon's extraordinary efforts, his company was able to move forward, eliminate the enemy positions, and rescue the men trapped to the front. S/Sgt. Bacon's bravery at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.[4]

See also

Biography portal
United States Army portal

References

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External links

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