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Paul Ronald Lambers (June 25, 1942 – December 1, 1970) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.
Paul Lambers graduated was a 1960 Holland [Michigan] Christian High School graduate. Lambers then joined the Army from his birth city of Holland, Michigan, and by August 20, 1968 was serving as a Sergeant in Company A, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. During a firefight on that day, in Tay Ninh Province, Republic of Vietnam, Lambers took command after the platoon leader was wounded. For his conspicuous leadership during the battle he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and awarded the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor citationStaff Sergeant Lambers' official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. (then Sgt.) Lambers distinguished himself in action while serving with the 3d platoon, Company A. The unit had established a night defensive position astride a suspected enemy infiltration route, when it was attacked by an estimated Viet Cong battalion. During the initial enemy onslaught, the platoon leader fell seriously wounded and S/Sgt. Lambers assumed command of the platoon. Disregarding the intense enemy fire, S/Sgt. Lambers left his covered position, secured the platoon radio and moved to the command post to direct the defense. When his radio became inoperative due to enemy action, S/Sgt. Lambers crossed the fire swept position to secure the 90mm recoilless rifle crew's radio in order to re-establish communications. Upon discovering that the 90mm recoilless rifle was not functioning, S/Sgt. Lambers assisted in the repair of the weapon and directed canister fire at point-blank range against the attacking enemy who had breached the defensive wire of the position. When the weapon was knocked out by enemy fire, he single-handedly repulsed a penetration of the position by detonating claymore mines and throwing grenades into the midst of the attackers, killing 4 more of the Viet Cong with well aimed hand grenades. S/Sgt. Lambers maintained command of the platoon elements by moving from position to position under the hail of enemy fire, providing assistance where the assault was the heaviest and by his outstanding example inspiring his men to the utmost efforts of courage. He displayed great skill and valor throughout the 5-hour battle by personally directing artillery and helicopter fire, placing them at times within 5 meters of the defensive position. He repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire at great risk to his own life in order to redistribute ammunition and to care for seriously wounded comrades and to move them to sheltered positions. S/Sgt. Lambers' superb leadership, professional skill and magnificent courage saved the lives of his comrades, resulted in the virtual annihilation of a vastly superior enemy force and were largely instrumental in thwarting an enemy offensive against Tay Ninh City. His gallantry at the risk of his life is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
He received his Medal of Honor from President Richard M. Nixon in a cermoney at the White House attended by his mother on November 24, 1969.
On December 1, 1970 Lambers was swept away by high waves from the south breakwater of Holland Harbor. His body was never recovered.
Tuesday, 20 August 1968, a platoon-sized patrol stole the show. It started at 1:05 a.m., when the patrol opened up on six Viet Cong moving in front of their position six miles northwest of Tay Ninh. Immediately, the platoon was besieged with small arms , automatic weapons and RPG fire from three sides.
From the book The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky by Sam K. Cecil. When his patrol leader was wounded, Sergeant Paul Lambers took charge. To mark their own position for air support, Lambers directed his men to burn anything they could , including personal clothing and boots. After four hours of intense fighting, the enemy force withdrew and 57 of their comrades were found dead immediately after the fighting; 45 more were found during the next three day, bringing the total enemy dead to 102.
There are memorial markers for SSG Lambers at Graafschap Cemetery in Holland Michigan. Find A Grave Memorial:
Legion of Valor Membership: Membership in the Legion of Valor was extended on a posthumous basis. Following White House presentation of the Medal of Honor, Paul Lambers was invited to become a member of the Legion of Valor by the National Adjutant. On 1 December 1970, Paul and a friend were standing on a pier at Holland, Michigan. A 12-foot wave, backed by a 30 mile-an-hour wind swept both into Lake Michigan. Paul's friend managed to regain the pier; Paul lost his life in the turbulent waters. His completed application form for membership in the Legion of Valor was found among his personal papers and sent to the National Adjutant by his sister.