Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran James Richard Hendrix. Hendrix served as an infantryman during World War II and paratrooper during the Korean War.
James Richard Hendrix was born in August 1925 in Lepanto, Arkansas. He left school at a young age to help his parents work in the fields as sharecroppers. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 at age 18 and underwent basic training in Florida before deploying to Europe.
In December 1944, while serving with C Company, 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division, Hendrix was sent on a mission to Belgium to rescue paratroopers hemmed in at a garrison in Bastogne. He was a part of the vanguard of an attack against the enemy garrison in the town of Bastogne as a part of the larger Battle of the Bulge. His unit came under fire from enemy artillery and small arms fire.
Hendrix left the safety of his vehicle and began firing at two enemy 88-millimeter gun positions. Due to his fierce fire, the two 88-millimeter gun crews surrendered. Later, during the attack, Hendrix again left the safety of his vehicle to protect two wounded soldiers who were under intense enemy machine gunfire. Hendrix provided covering fire, allowing for the wounded soldiers to be evacuated. He saved another soldier by risking fire from enemy small arms, sniper fire and mines to rescue the soldier from a burning half-track truck.
In August 1945, President Harry S. Truman awarded 19-year-old Hendrix a Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in Belgium, capturing enemy soldiers and rescuing injured American troops. Curiously, he was one of the few Medal of Honor recipients who did not also receive a Purple Heart, as he was never wounded in battle.
Hendrix stayed in the military after World War II. He is also remembered for surviving a 1,000-foot jump from an aircraft after his parachute failed to open in 1949. Hendrix met with President Truman again due to his miraculous survival. He served as a paratrooper during the Korean War and served overseas in Germany during the Cold War. Hendrix retired from active duty in 1966 with the rank of master sergeant. He moved to Florida with his wife, Helen, and their four daughters. He had several jobs after his military career, including as a truck driver and a security guard.
Hendrix died from throat cancer in November 2002 at the age of 77. He is buried at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida.
We honor his service.
Carry the Load
In 2022, VA is joining forces with Carry The Load to honor veterans during the “Memorial May” March, a national relay visiting 50 VA national cemeteries to honor our nation’s fallen service members. A link to this webpage is here. The complete list of participating cemeteries can be found here. Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Jack Patterson
Editors: Alexander Reza, Annabelle Colton
Researchers: Timothy Georgetti, David Deprez
Graphic Designer: Yasmine Pierce