By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity
This blog is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.
Several soldiers and future service members got a treat in May, hearing the story of a Medal of Honor recipient from the honoree himself.
Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Kenneth E. Stumpf visited Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, on Armed Forces Day to salute graduating seniors who have enlisted in the military. Several Army, Army Reserve and Wisconsin Army National Guard members were also there to meet the decorated soldier.
Stumpf was drafted into the Army from Milwaukee, and by April 25, 1967, he was serving as a specialist in Vietnam. Stumpf was a squad leader in a platoon that was on a search-and-destroy mission near Duc Pho when they came across a bunker filled with North Vietnamese troops. Three of Stumpf’s men were shot and unreachable by the rest of the platoon.
But Stumpf refused to leave them. He jumped out of a trench to rescue all three, despite heavy fire. He then led an assault against several enemy bunkers. His troops took out two of them, while he managed to single-handedly disable a third. That success allowed them to overrun the enemy and win the day.
For his actions, Stumpf was promoted to staff sergeant. He was presented with the Medal of Honor on Sept. 19, 1968, about a year after he was discharged from the Army.
His break in service didn’t last long, though. At the urging of the Army, Stumpf re-enlisted and served another tour in Vietnam, where he was wounded. He spent the next 29 years in the service, finally retiring as a sergeant major in 1994.
At the Armed Forces Day ceremony, Stumpf shared personal stories from his time in service, including one about his mother receiving his draft notice, and how he wanted to throw baseballs but ended up throwing hand grenades. He also spoke about being the recipient of the Medal of Honor and how the men he lost that day in battle were the ones who really earned the medal.
“Stumpf presented ceremony certificates to all the enlistees, which was outstanding,” said Gerald W. Meyer, the Army Reserve ambassador for Wisconsin. “His comments during the ceremony about earning the Medal of Honor were truly amazing. His impact on these young adults has the potential to be lifelong.”
Thank you for continuing to share your story of honor and sacrifice, Sergeant Major Stumpf!
Portions of this blog were originally posted in an article by Catherine Carroll of Fort McCoy’s 88th Readiness Division.
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