News Release

U.S. Army Awards Bronze Star Medal for Valor to Murrieta Vietnam Veteran 50 Years Later

The Army Honored Sgt. Engles for his Role in Battle of Soui Tre

MURRIETA, Calif.— The U.S. Army awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor to retired Sgt. Joseph E. Engles on March 20, 2017, at the Veterans Memorial in Murrieta, California. The California National Gaurd supported the ceremony with a Color Guard team which presented the National Colors.

Retired Maj. Gen. Juilian Burns presented Sgt. Engles with the Bronze Star for gallantry in the face of the enemy during the Battle of Soui Tre on March 20-21, 1967. The battle was part of U.S. Army's Operation Junction City in the Tay Ninh Province, in the Republic of Vietnam.

"In talking to those who witnessed that ferocious battle, in the space of two football fields where 197 men were wounded and 51 killed in just three hours, we came to realize Joe (Engles) was more than just a gunner," said Burns. "Joe was also much, much more. Mr. Engles was a hero, and worthy of commendation for valor."

Before his recent death, former Chief of the Staff of the Army Gen. Jack Vessey asked Burns, his former aide, to ensure Engles was honored for his role in the Battle of Soui. As a lieutenant colonel, Vessey served as commander of the battalion in which Engles served during the battle.

"As the battle commenced with intense rocket and grenade and sniper fire, he (Engles) manned the gun and commanded his team to return fire," reads the official history of the Battle of Soui. "When a rocket landed close, without regard for his personal safety he neutralized the enemy ordnance and continued the mission. ... Though Specialist Engles was wounded in his left arm, he remained in command of his gun. As the blood loss woresened he reported to the battalion aid station. With the shrapnel removed, he returned immediately to his gun as gunner."

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