As much as the pain in his crippled body, the constant barrage of criticism at America’s involvement in Vietnam swelled the anger within his soul. On a daily basis he watched as the nightly news showed film of the American flag being burned, while he thought of those brave men he knew that were heading out for yet another mission on behalf of that flag. Each and every one willing to sacrifice it all and without complaint to serve their country.

He was one of them, or if the doctor’s diagnoses proved correct, once was.

Roy Benavidez’s war was over. Born in 1935, the stocky Texan of Mexican/Yaqui Indian descent, who had dropped out of school at 15 to help support his family, enlisted in the Army National Guard, then active Army and joined the fledgling Special Forces, now found his career and almost his life, torn apart. In 1965, while serving as an advisor to the ARVN (Army Republic of Vietnam), he stepped on a land mine. The explosion shredded his legs, leaving them useless.

After evacuation to the U.S., he lay in a ward at Brook Army Medical Center contemplating what doctors told him. He would never walk again, and must be medically discharged from the service he loved.

He would not let that happen.

For months while recovering with other wounded who were paralyzed or missing limbs, Benavidez eased himself out of bed after dark, and pulled himself with elbows and chin across the cold floor to a wall near his bed, where he would try to prop himself up unaided.

To the encouraging words of those watching him, the ritual, which often left him in tears from the unbearable pain, began to pay off. It started when he was able to wiggle his toes, then his feet. Afterwards, with a determination few men possess, he pushed with all his might the few feet up that wall. It felt like miles to climb.

It was slow, tedious, and pure hell, but as judgment day neared for his medical discharge, there he stood. Sometimes he got caught, of course, chewed out and forced back into bed, but that did not stop him. He succeeded when he should not have, and without delay forced himself to take those first steps