American Legion vet awarded Bronze Star
Harold P. Jantz, an Army veteran and first vice commander of the American Legion Post 269, was recently awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Medal for his exceptional valorous achievement on Jan. 17, 1970 in Long Khanh Province, Republic of South Vietnam.
The Bronze Star is awarded to individuals who have served with the Armed Forces on or after December 1941 and displayed heroic or meritorious achievement or service while engaged in action against an enemy in imminent danger.
According to his certificate, he was awarded for his quick thinking and aggressive actions by calling close air support artillery, driving off the enemy force that had been attacking other members of his platoon. He quickly assessed the situation and called a medical evacuation as an attempt to save another soldier’s life.
Jantz described the day for which he was awarded. His platoon leader commanded the group to split and “cloverleaf” the area, despite Jantz’s request not to. The captain took half his men one way and Jantz took the other half another. After some time, the captain’s group was attacked; there was no response from radio calls and no sound from the M16 machine gun. The platoon leader was in shock and Jantz took over communications. Jantz immediately called for air support and grabbed the medic to find the men. There, he found the machine gunner had been hit multiple times and later died after being medevac’d out. Another platoon member, Lynwood Thornton, was also a casualty. He was ordered to leave Thornton’s body behind but refused. Instead, Jantz created a stretcher out of branches and ponchos and carried him out. He later discovered they were outnumbered about 100 to one. His actions saved the remaining 14 men in his platoon.
Jantz was a private first class in the 199th Infantry Brigade in the US Army. He was drafted in May 1969, and served from October 1969 until 1970 in Vietnam as a radio operator. He was honorably discharged in 1975. He now lives in Patchogue with his wife Valerie, his high school sweetheart. Together they had three sons and five grandchildren. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Medal this July at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
“I am proud; it’s something you never think of,” he said, stating that his actions were made simply for getting his fellow soldier a proper burial. “This award is just beyond. I am on cloud nine for what it means for me and my comrades.”
Thornton was also awarded the Bronze Star.
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