He was wounded 37 times by bullets, shrapnel, a bayonet, and a rifle butt but his only thoughts were on those others who were hit on that day in May 1968. His actions saved eight other men’s lives in Vietnam on that day. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery but it wouldn’t be for 13 more years. Because nothing ever came easy for Roy Benavidez.

Benavidez was born in 1935 outside of Cuero, Texas to a Mexican sharecropper father and a Yaqui Indian mother. Both of them would be dead of tuberculosis before Roy was eight years old. He was moved to his grandparents with his younger brother and he grew up with eight other cousins in the household.

He struggled in school before dropping out in the seventh grade. He worked odd jobs to help support his family; in a tire shop, on farms in the area, even shining shoes in the bus station.

Everything began to change for him in 1952 when he joined the National Guard. Three years later he enlisted in the Regular Army. He married his wife and joined the 82nd Airborne Division in 1959. Like many other men, he moved down the street and joined Special Forces.