what is a hero

What is a Hero?

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Tet is the Vietnamese New Year and the most important holiday in their culture. Every year, during the Vietnam War, fighting would stop during the celebration. However, in 1968, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC) took advantage of the cease-fire with a countrywide sneak attack of South Vietnamese, American, and allied forces. The onslaught is known as the “Tet Offensive.”

As the NVA and VC overwhelmed the city of Chau Phu, they met U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Drew Dix, a Green Beret. Dix was called on to help defend the city. When hearing of a nurse being held captive, he organized a group of South Vietnamese soldiers and successfully rescued her. Dix then voluntarily returned to the city to rescue captive civilian workers being held in a building. When he arrived, he was under intense machine gunfire. Although the number of enemy forces was unknown, Dix personally stormed the building killing 6 VC and rescuing 2 civilians. The following day, he again voluntarily put together a force of 20 soldiers and fought the Viet Cong out of several buildings in the city while under intense fire. His bravery and success inspired the South Vietnamese soldiers. Dix then assaulted enemy forces that had taken the home of a Deputy Province Chief. He was able to save the wife and children. In those few days, Army Staff Sergeant Dix rescued 14 free world citizens. He would later receive the Medal of Honor for valor.

There have been 3,471 recipients of the Medal of Honor since the first was awarded during the Civil War. When people ask, “What is a hero?” MOH recipients are the first people that come to mind. There are common characteristics of Medal of Honor recipients. Here is the anatomy of a hero and how it can inspire us to be better dads.


Our courage emboldens our kids with courage. Every soldier, particularly those that fight in combat, are deserving of our deepest respect. Stepping onto a battle field alone is a courageous act. The acts of Medal of Honor recipients stretch beyond normal. I’m sure there was fear inside them somewhere, but they weren’t ruled by it. When they commanded themselves to go, fear was not strong enough to hold them back. We need to confront our own fears that keep us from experiencing life at its best. Whether it is past hurts, an old secret we’re afraid to be honest about or taking career risks, we need to deal with it. Our courage emboldens our kids with courage.


In every story, the recipient of the Medal of Honor was able to think clearly and decisively under fire. They assessed the situation, reduced their vulnerabilities, and harnessed their strengths to achieve the best possible outcome. It’s that type of composure that saves lives in combat. There may be a certain natural ability to respond that way; however, there is a reason soldiers train intensely. It is for situations that require that type of thinking. There are situations that confront our families that could use these skills. Think through the difficulties or crises that may strike your family. Prepare your heart and mind so that you can show composure when they hit.

Beyond the Call

Finally, Medal of Honor recipients do things that are beyond the call of duty. In other words, it would have been highly acceptable had they stopped short of what they had done. They didn’t stop until they went as far as they could to protect, rescue, survive or win. It was a mind-set of serve those around me, serve them again, and then serve them some more. They felt as if there was always something else they could do. As dads, we can do the job and be done or we can continually ask the question, “What else can I do?”

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who is a hero to you?”