Army Capt. Paul “Buddy” Bucha faked out the enemy while leading a motley crew in Vietnam.
The Medal of Honor recipient was hailed as a hero after he made North Vietnamese fighters believe his 187th Infantry Regiment was much bigger than it really was. The combination of bravery and cunning helped him earn the nation’s highest military honor, an award bestowed upon him by the president.
In 1967, Bucha — who graduated from West Point and earned an MBA at Stanford — arrived in Vietnam and was given a squad filled “with the rejects of all the other units,” including writers, intellectuals and men who had served time in military prison, he said.
“We were called the ‘clerks and the jerks,'” he recalled. “We were a few smart guys and a lot of badasses … considered the losers of all losers.”
But as a company commander new to Vietnam, “I, too, was a loser,” Bucha recalled fondly years later. “So we were sort of meant for each other.”
“They ended up being a very disciplined, proud, and frightening force,” he said.
On March 16, 1968, soon after the Tet Offensive, Bucha’s 89-man company took part in a counterattack designed to push the North Vietnamese away from Saigon.
A helicopter dropped his team into an enemy stronghold, and for two days they destroyed camps and fortifications.
On March 18, after they found a clearing and resupplied, Bucha directed his troops to push into the jungle, where it was getting dark.
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