Army Specialist 6 Lawrence Joel was born on Feb. 22, 1928, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He attended Atkins High School and joined the Army on his 18th birthday in 1946. During his three-year enlistment, he served in France, Germany, and Italy.
In 1953, Specialist Joel re-joined the Army as an airborne medic. After assignments in Lebanon and Alaska, he joined the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Okinawa, Japan, in November 1964. In 1965, the 173rd became the first major U.S. Army unit to serve in Vietnam.
On Nov. 8, 1965, halfway through the 173rd’s tour of duty in Vietnam, Specialist Joel joined squads from Company C, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry during Operation Hump. The mission, which was named in recognition of the unit’s halfway point, was designed to drive out Viet Cong soldiers in the jungles near Bien Hoa. In an interview, Specialist Joel said the daylong patrol was, “fairly routine…just like back at Fort Bragg—going to play war games.” Instead, they walked into a Viet Cong ambush.
Reports state the 503rd Infantry was up against 1,200 enemy soldiers who wounded or killed nearly every man in the lead squad of C Company. While tending to the wounded, a machine gun struck Specialist Joel in his right leg. He bandaged his own wound, self-administered morphine to deaden the pain, and used a makeshift crutch to continue his mission of administering life-saving care to fellow soldiers.
His Medal of Honor citation, in part, reads:
“After being struck a second time and with a bullet lodged in his thigh, he dragged himself over the battlefield and succeeded in treating 13 more men before his medical supplies ran out. Displaying resourcefulness, he saved the life of 1 man by placing a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood. Throughout the long battle, Sp6c. Joel never lost sight of his mission as a medical aidman and continued to comfort and treat the wounded until his own evacuation was ordered. His meticulous attention to duty saved a large number of lives and his unselfish, daring example under most adverse conditions was an inspiration to all.”
Specialist Joel spent three months in hospitals in Saigon and Tokyo. He received the Silver Star, and on March 9, 1967, he received the Medal of Honor from then-President Lyndon B. Johnson during a ceremony at the White House.
Specialist Joel died on Feb. 4, 1984, from complications with diabetes. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Congressional Medal of Honor
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp6c. Joel demonstrated indomitable courage, determination, and professional skill when a numerically superior and well-concealed Viet Cong element launched a vicious attack which wounded or killed nearly every man in the lead squad of the company. After treating the men wounded by the initial burst of gunfire, he bravely moved forward to assist others who were wounded while proceeding to their objective. While moving from man to man, he was struck in the right leg by machine gun fire. Although painfully wounded his desire to aid his fellow soldiers transcended all personal feeling. He bandaged his own wound and self-administered morphine to deaden the pain enabling him to continue his dangerous undertaking. Through this period of time, he constantly shouted words of encouragement to all around him. Then, completely ignoring the warnings of others, and his pain, he continued his search for wounded, exposing himself to hostile fire; and, as bullets dug up the dirt around him, he held plasma bottles high while kneeling completely engrossed in his life saving mission. Then, after being struck a second time and with a bullet lodged in his thigh, he dragged himself over the battlefield and succeeded in treating 13 more men before his medical supplies ran out. Displaying resourcefulness, he saved the life of 1 man by placing a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood. As 1 of the platoons pursued the Viet Cong, an insurgent force in concealed positions opened fire on the platoon and wounded many more soldiers. With a new stock of medical supplies, Sp6c. Joel again shouted words of encouragement as he crawled through an intense hail of gunfire to the wounded men. After the 24 hour battle subsided and the Viet Cong dead numbered 410, snipers continued to harass the company. Throughout the long battle, Sp6c. Joel never lost sight of his mission as a medical aidman and continued to comfort and treat the wounded until his own evacuation was ordered. His meticulous attention to duty saved a large number of lives and his unselfish, daring example under most adverse conditions was an inspiration to all. Sp6c. Joel’s profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflects great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
Colt Ainsworth shares the history of W.A.R. Gaming with W.A.R. President Sheri Smith, as well as chat about the history of the gaming industry in general, events, missions, and more. Find out why gaming is a great outlet for those who serve. and the future of this branch of W.A.R.
Colt is the Director of W.A.R. Gaming, a branch of Warriors and Rodeo, an Air Force Veteran, and a former bull rider. He currently works in the technology industry. He has a wonderful wife and three incredible children.
U.S. SOCOM athlete Lt. Col. Tony Smith, Team SOCOM, competes in the precision air sports competition during the 2023 Department of Defense Warrior Games Challenge, June 11, 2023. The DoD Warrior Games Challenge is comprised of over 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veteran athletes, competing in 11 adaptive sporting events June 2-12, 2023, at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, Calif.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexis French)
Warriors and Rodeo mourns the loss of one of our board of director officers, CW3 Robert (Bobby) Ibrahim. Ibrahim served in the 160th SOAR Night Stalkers, which are highly trained special operations pilots who are trained in nighttime flight operations. Bobby is known for his incredible and sincere kindness toward everyone. His heart for his family, nation, and fellow mankind has changed lives around the world. We miss him terribly and pray for his family and friends.
Bobby’s wife, Melissa, has shared with many people about donating to Warriors and Rodeo in memory of her husband. We are humbled and honored. There are a few ways to donate:
Warriors and Rodeo is proud to add Air Force Veteran Khris Harrington and his wife Stephany to our W.A.R. Media Team. They will be handling the coverage of the 42nd Midwest Horse Fair held in Madison, Wisconsin. To see our coverage go to our media pages: https://warmissions.org/midwest-horse-fair-2023/
Warriors and Rodeo VP and Director of W.A.R. Gaming will be representing our media team at The American again this year.
When not volunteering for multiple projects with W.A.R. or working full-time in the technology industry, Air Force Veteran Colt Ainsworth is DJing in Reno, NV, and around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
Colt and his wife, Britni, have done interviews, photography, and video at multiple rodeo events throughout the years and we look forward to partnering with Western Media and Sports, SmithPRO Magazine, and SmithPRO LLC in providing unique media coverage of the one and only The American event in March 2023.
Editorial by Warriors and Rodeo President, Sheri Smith, U.S. Navy Veteran
While it is our first clinic of 2023, it is our second bull riding clinic with Pale Horse Ranch in Big Sandy, Texas.
This clinic was an amazing experience for me, as president of W.A.R. I’m going to tell you the real story of this clinic and why it is a great example of our mission – Operation Not Forgotten.
For a year now, the owners of Pale Horse Ranch, Merrill and Gina Kidder, and I have been discussing some of the possible events and projects that we could partner on. In October, we launched the first of many bull riding clinics! With little time to announce the event, we did our best to get the word out. Numerous veterans and active duty military attended and our clinicians were veterans themselves! To top it off – the owners of Pale Horse Ranch are veterans, too! Such an incredible team to work with! Thank you, Robert Long, U.S. Army Veteran, for instructing this clinic and for the others who put in the time to instruct our students!
January snuck up on us, with the holidays and a family crisis in my home. The next thing we knew, the second clinic was upon us without much time to plan. I didn’t want to cancel; I’ve found something will always come up to derail great events and I was hopeful that it wouldn’t happen again.
After discussions with Merrill Kidder and Chad Rutan, Army Veteran bull riding instructor for the January clinic, we all agreed this clinic would go on even if only one person came. And sure enough, we had one person come – and he was well worth the effort.
With our organization, it’s not always about the masses,
many times it’s about the one.
One of our mottos is, “We can’t help them all, but we can help some.” That is exactly what we did. While we can’t put on clinics everywhere in the country to help every veteran or first responder who rodeos, we can do what we can, with the volunteers we have, and the donations we receive. I firmly believe that helping even one is worth it and that is why we partner with many other non-profits and organizations – because together we can reach so many more!
Warriors and Rodeo is proud to have law enforcement from around the nation as an integral part of this organization. Nathan Hollenbeck represents our northern brothers & sisters-in-arms in service to our great country via the Alaska State Troopers. When he’s not protecting the citizens while on patrol, he’s representing Warriors and Rodeo in the arena on the back of a bull and chute dogging.
Thank you Officer Hollenbeck for your service to our nation. We appreciate you.
Written by Nathan Hollenbeck:
I have served with the Alaska State Troopers for three years. Originally from Colorado, I grew up riding horses and tending to the care of livestock. I developed a passion for animals and rodeo at a young age. I continued that passion while living in both Oregon and Alaska. I have been a contestant and volunteer with Rodeo Alaska for the past five years. Riding bulls helped prepare me for the challenging career in Law Enforcement. I discovered a brotherhood in rodeo similar to that in my detachment. The high stress job has a tendency of bringing depression and anxiety. It’s nice to escape into the rodeo world with my rodeo family and I ride at every opportunity. It’s a great way to blow off steam and I know that my rodeo family or brothers in blue always have my back if I ever need them. Pulling rope/giving cover… at a moment’s notice someone will always be there. I am fortunate to serve my community and I am excited to be a part of W.A.R and hope to reach out to others who may face the same challenges. I would not be able to serve or ride without the strength and support of those closest to me.