Rep. Martha Roby honors Elmore Co. Medal of Honor recipient on H - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Rep. Martha Roby honors Elmore Co. Medal of Honor recipient on House floor

Lt. Col. Sprayberry's U.S. Army photo and Medal of Honor Lt. Col. Sprayberry's U.S. Army photo and Medal of Honor
The U.S. Army Medal of Honor. Photo by: The U.S. Army Medal of Honor. Photo by:

U.S. Representative Martha Roby [R-District2] honored Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Col. James Sprayberry, an Elmore County resident, Wednesday evening for his service in Vietnam.

Lt. Col. Sprayberry is one of only 79 living Medal of Honor recipients. The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest recognition for valor in combat that can awarded to members of the armed forces.

Speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Roby read the following words regarding Lt. Col. Sprayberry's actions:

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Lieutenant Colonel James Michael Sprayberry of the United States Army. Raised in Sylacauga Alabama, he joined the Army in Montgomery Alabama in 1967.

Lieutenant Colonel Sprayberry was just 21 years old and serving with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam when on April 25, 1968, he engaged in extraordinary acts of heroism for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

On that day, his company commander and many of his fellow soldiers were wounded and separated from the unit.  When a daytime rescue attempt was deterred by entrenched enemy machinegun fire, Lieutenant Colonel Sprayberry organized and led a nighttime patrol to eliminate the enemy fire and rescue his fellow surrounded soldiers. When the rescue patrol came under intense enemy machinegun fire, he singlehandedly conducted multiple attacks against multiple enemy machine gun bunkers and eliminated them one by one with hand grenades. 

After destroying the bunkers, he was able to direct the isolated men to safety.  The operation was a resounding success and resulted in the safe return of many fellow soldiers.

It is for his conspicuous gallantry and indomitable spirit that I am proud to honor the actions of Lieutenant Colonel James Michael Sprayberry."

[ON THE WEB: The Medal of Honor]

Lt. Col. Sprayberry's official Citation reads:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Sprayberry, Armor, U.S. Army, distinguished himself by exceptional bravery while serving as executive officer of Company D.

His company commander and a great number of the men were wounded and separated from the main body of the company. A daylight attempt to rescue them was driven back by the well entrenched enemy's heavy fire.

Capt. Sprayberry then organized and led a volunteer night patrol to eliminate the intervening enemy bunkers and to relieve the surrounded element. The patrol soon began receiving enemy machinegun fire. Capt. Sprayberry quickly moved the men to protective cover and without regard for his own safety, crawled within close range of the bunker from which the fire was coming.

He silenced the machinegun with a hand grenade. Identifying several l-man enemy positions nearby, Capt. Sprayberry immediately attacked them with the rest of his grenades. He crawled back for more grenades and when 2 grenades were thrown at his men from a position to the front, Capt. Sprayberry, without hesitation, again exposed himself and charged the enemy-held bunker killing its occupants with a grenade.

Placing 2 men to cover his advance, he crawled forward and neutralized 3 more bunkers with grenades. Immediately thereafter, Capt. Sprayberry was surprised by an enemy soldier who charged from a concealed position. He killed the soldier with his pistol and with continuing disregard for the danger neutralized another enemy emplacement.

Capt. Sprayberry then established radio contact with the isolated men, directing them toward his position. When the 2 elements made contact he organized his men into litter parties to evacuate the wounded.

As the evacuation was nearing completion, he observed an enemy machinegun position which he silenced with a grenade. Capt. Sprayberry returned to the rescue party, established security, and moved to friendly lines with the wounded.

This rescue operation, which lasted approximately 7½ hours, saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. Capt. Sprayberry personally killed 12 enemy soldiers, eliminated 2 machineguns, and destroyed numerous enemy bunkers.

Capt. Sprayberry's indomitable spirit and gallant action at great personal risk to his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

The honor was part of a bi-partisan "special order" on the House floor honoring Medal of honor recipients.

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