Friday, February 21, 2014

Speakers Series at Edison: When a Soldier Dies in Combat

Senior Picture of Josesph Guy LaPointe, Jr.
What happens when a soldier dies in combat? On June 2, 1969, one month short of his 21st birthday, Joseph Guy LaPointe, Jr., a conscientious objector and a U.S. Army combat medic, was killed by an enemy grenade on Hill 376 in Quang Tin Province in the Republic of Vietnam. When his unit was attacked, he ran through automatic weapons fire to reach two wounded men at the head of his patrol. LaPointe continued to treat them even after he was shot twice, and he shielded them with his body. In January of 1972 he was posthumously given the Congressional Medal of Honor for “gallantry and selflessness.”

LaPointe was also awarded the following: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Medal with one star, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Combat Medical Badge, and Combat Infantry Badge.

This Miami Valley of Ohio hero has several military installations named in his honor: a health clinic at Fort Campbell (KY), a medical heliport at Fort Benning (GA), and an Army Reserve Center (OH). Those traveling on Route 49 in Montgomery County (OH) may note the Joseph G LaPointe Memorial Highway.

On February 25 at Edison Community College in Piqua, LaPointe’s widow, Cindy LaPointe- Dafler, and his son, Joseph LaPointe, III, will share their stories. The two will be joined by retired Master Sergeant Ken Williamson whose role, in part, in twenty years of military service was to make visits to 33 families of soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice.

The first of two fifty-minute sessions will begin at the college at 12 p.m. in Room 210, West Hall, and that session will be repeated at 1:30 in Room 220, West Hall. Admission is free and the public in invited. Visitor parking is available at the West Hall lot and at the Emerson Center. Stairs and an elevator provide access to the second floor. Call Dr. Vivian Blevins with questions: 937-778-3815.

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