Special Forces Senior Medic Lee Martin vividly remembers the first time he saw Green Beret Raul Perez “Roy” Benavidez on May 2, 1968.

Benavidez’s bloody, muddy, beaten body was inside a body bag, which was laying on the airstrip at the Loc Ninh Special Forces A Camp A-331 (located near the Cambodian border), waiting to be shipped to the morgue. His body bag was lying alongside the bodies of several American aviators and Green Berets, and a few enemy soldiers who were killed that day during a top-secret mission in Cambodia that turned deadly.

“I’ll never forget it,” Martin told SOFREP. “He was just a mess. There was no doubt in my mind that he was dead, based on his appearance: the dried blood, sweat, mud, and soft body tissues on his face.”

Martin watched as a doctor bent down and gave one final inspection of the Green Beret sergeant. Much to his surprise, Benavidez’s lips moved as he spit at the doctor, incapable of speaking or moaning. “His face was so caked over he couldn’t open his eyes,” Martin recalled. Also, the doctor couldn’t see that Benavidez’s arms crossed over a gaping abdominal wound that he suffered at the hands of a communist North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldier.

Author Eric Blehm brilliantly captures that surreal moment in Green Beret history on page one of his recently penned non-fiction masterpiece, “Legend.

Blehm skillfully crafts a story that takes readers into Benavidez’s history, from his early days as a migrant worker with a hair-trigger temper in El Campo, Texas, to the foundational moment in his life when he dedicates himself to honor, duty, and country.

He also covers the surprising 10-year effort that it took for Sergeant Benavidez to be recommended for the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor. President Ronald Reagan draped it around his neck on February 24, 1981—13 years after Benavidez’s heroic efforts in Cambodia.

Roy Benavidez wearing his Medal of Honor. Photo courtesy of gehm.es.

Additionally, for readers who want to know more about the top secret war conducted during the Vietnam War under the aegis of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam—Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), Blehm frames Benavidez’s day in Cambodian hell by expertly explaining the need for a secret war and the motivations behind the men who fought in it, providing an accurate frame of reference that enhances the understanding of Benavidez’s core values: Family members had told Benavidez to help those who needed help.