US PARAS 2 Hooper, Joe Ronnie

John Robertson

Staff member
Joe Ronnie
  • UNIT
501 Infantry Regiment (Airborne) (Company D,2 Bn)
  • RANK
Medal of Honor, 2 x Silver Stars, 6 Bronze Stars
South Vietnam 1968
born 8.8.1938 Piedmont, South Carolina
moved as child to Moses Lake, Washington
attended Moses Lake High School
enlisted U.S.N. December 1956
USS Wasp
USS Hancock
discharged July 1959 (Petty Officer 3rd Class)
enlisted Army May 1960 Los Angeles, California (PFC)
Company C,1 Bn 327th Infantry Regiment
20th Infantry Regiment (Sgt)
2nd Armored Division 1964
Company D,2 Bn 502nd Infantry Regiment
Staff Sergeant September 1966
HQ Company + Company B 508th Infantry Regiment
reduced to Corporal July 1967
Sergeant again October 1967
Company D,2 Bn 501st Infantry Regiment
WIA 21.2.1968 near Hue, South Vietnam
discharged June 1968
re enlisted September 1968
Public Relations Specialist
5th Infantry Regiment July 1969-August 1970 (Platoon Sgt)
Pathfinder,101st Aviation Group,101st Airborne Division (Vietnam April-June 1970)
Company A,2 Bn 327th Infantry Regiment (Platoon Sgt) June-December 1970
commissioned Second Lieutenant
Company A,2 Bn 327th Infantry Regiment December 1970-April 1971
Infantry Officer Basic Course, Fort Benning
instructor, Fort Polk, Louisiana
retired February 1974 (1st Lieutenant)
Army Reserve
12th Special Forces Group (Airborne) (company exec officer) 1974
104th Division (Training Support) February 1976
Captain March 1977
left service September 1978
awards Medal of Honor, Silver Star (x2), Bronze Star with V (x6), Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry
most decorated soldier of Vietnam War
died 6.5.1979 Louisville, Kentucky (cerebral hemorrhage)
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia Section 46 Site 656-17


Medal of Honor : The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant [then Sergeant] Joe Ronnie Hooper (ASN: RA-19670872), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion (Airborne), 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), in action against enemy aggressor forces at Hue, Republic of Vietnam, on 21 February 1968. Staff Sergeant Hooper, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while serving as squad leader with Company D. Company D was assaulting a heavily defended enemy position along a river bank when it encountered a withering hail of fire from rockets, machineguns and automatic weapons. Staff Sergeant Hooper rallied several men and stormed across the river, overrunning several bunkers on the opposite shore. Thus inspired, the rest of the company moved to the attack. With utter disregard for his own safety, he moved out under the intense fire again and pulled back the wounded, moving them to safety. During this act Staff Sergeant Hooper was seriously wounded, but he refused medical aid and returned to his men. With the relentless enemy fire disrupting the attack, he single-handedly stormed three enemy bunkers, destroying them with hand grenade and rifle fire, and shot two enemy soldiers who had attacked and wounded the Chaplain. Leading his men forward in a sweep of the area, Staff Sergeant Hooper destroyed three buildings housing enemy riflemen. At this point he was attacked by a North Vietnamese officer whom he fatally wounded with his bayonet. Finding his men under heavy fire from a house to the front, he proceeded alone to the building, killing its occupants with rifle fire and grenades. By now his initial body wound had been compounded by grenade fragments, yet despite the multiple wounds and loss of blood, he continued to lead his men against the intense enemy fire. As his squad reached the final line of enemy resistance, it received devastating fire from four bunkers in line on its left flank. Staff Sergeant Hooper gathered several hand grenades and raced down a small trench which ran the length of the bunker line, tossing grenades into each bunker as he passed by, killing all but two of the occupants. With these positions destroyed, he concentrated on the last bunkers facing his men, destroying the first with an incendiary grenade and neutralizing two more by rifle fire. He then raced across an open field, still under enemy fire, to rescue a wounded man who was trapped in a trench. Upon reaching the man, he was faced by an armed enemy soldier whom he killed with a pistol. Moving his comrade to safety and returning to his men, he neutralized the final pocket of enemy resistance by fatally wounding three North Vietnamese officers with rifle fire. Staff Sergeant Hooper then established a final line and reorganized his men, not accepting treatment until this was accomplished and not consenting to evacuation until the following morning. His supreme valor, inspiring leadership and heroic self-sacrifice were directly responsible for the company's success and provided a lasting example in personal courage for every man on the field. Staff Sergeant Hooper's actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

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