Peter C. Lemon - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Peter C. Lemon

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"True heroism is not a matter of chance, it's a matter of choice."

So are the words spoken by a man who lived the essence of his message: Sp4c. Peter C. Lemon. Today, Lemon is a motivational speaker and author. But his journey to success started with a fearless act of bravery the day of April 1, 1970 … in the Tay Ninh province of Vietnam.

Lemon was serving as an assistant machine gunner with Company E. His mission: defend the Fire Support Base Illingworth. When enemy forces attacked the base, outnumbering Lemon and his company, Lemon jumped into action. He fired back using his machine gun and rifle until both weapons malfunctioned.

That's when he turned to hand grenades, furiously fending off the enemy. After taking out all but one fighter, he leapt into hand-to-hand combat, emerging triumphant. Despite suffering wounds from an exploding grenade, Lemon carried a more seriously wounded comrade to an aid station.

Upon his return to the battle, he was wounded yet again by enemy fire. But not even that stopped Lemon. He moved through his position, dodging bullets and hand grenades, until he realized the defensive sector was in danger of losing ground to the enemy.

Lemon launched hand grenades into the crowds of fighters and engaged in more hand-to-hand combat. During this time, he suffered a third wound, but Lemon's efforts drove the enemy back. Securing a machine gun, he climbed atop a nearby embankment—fully exposed—and fired onto the enemy until he collapsed from injury and exhaustion.

Even when Lemon regained consciousness at the aid station, he refused to be evacuated until his more seriously wounded comrades left first. For his extraordinary heroism, the White House awarded Lemon the Medal of Honor a year later, on June 14, 1971.