Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
A childhood immigrant, LT COL Al “Doc” Rascon became an Army medic and deployed to Vietnam. During a firefight,Rascon saved the lives of many soldiers by bringing them back to safety and absorbing grenade blasts. Rascon was so wounded he was given last rites, but recovered, continued to serve, and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2000.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Al “Doc” Rascon was born on September 10th, 1945 in Chihuahua, Mexico. When he was young, Rascon and his family immigrated to the United States.
After graduating in 1963 from high school in Oxnard, California, Rascon enlisted in the US Army as a medic. He received specialist medic training, attended airborne school and was assigned to the Medical Platoon in 1st Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment.
In 1965, Rascon’s battalion deployed to South Vietnam, as hostilities began to escalate. He became the medic for the 173rd’s recon platoon.
On March 16th, 1966, his platoon reinforced an adjacent battalion engaged by the enemy. As they moved towards friendlies, the platoon took heavy fire. Outnumbered and outgunned, Rascon repeatedly tried to reach their wounded point man, but was repelled by enemy fire. Rascon finally reached his fellow soldier and used his own body to shield him, taking wounds from enemy grenades. With cover from friendly machine gun fire, Rascon dragged him back to safety, but was wounded again by grenade shrapnel to the face and chest.
He then saw that the point grenadier was wounded. Ignoring his own injuries, Rascon ran to him and covered his body as several grenades exploded nearby, saving the grenadier’s life.
Then, for a third time, he ran to the aid of a fellow soldier. The point squad leader was wounded, and Rascon shielded his body from grenades. In spite of his own injuries, he treated others before himself, even after the enemy withdrew.
Rascon’s wounds were so severe he was given last rites. He was medically evacuated to Japan and spent six months at Johnson Army Hospital. Although he was nominated for the Medal of Honor, he received the Silver Star, and was discharged after recovering.
In 1967, Rascon became a U.S. citizen and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army three years later. Rascon returned to Vietnam and was discharged from active duty in 1976, moving to the Army Reserve.
In 1985, a group of soldiers at a reunion for the 173rd Airborne discovered Rascon never received the Medal of Honor, and began lobbying on his behalf. In 2000, Rascon was awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House. His other awards include the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star for Valor, and two Purple Hearts.
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned to active service in the Army’s Medical Service Corps before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He later served as Director of the Selective Service System.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our producer and engineer, León Pescador is our associate producer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.