by Max Brantley
Nick Bacon, the Arkansas native who received the Medal of Honor for action in Vietnam and later served as head of the state veterans affairs agency, died today. He was 64.
His death was announced in a news release from Steve Womack, Republican candidate for Third District Congress. It follows. As does a state news release that service will be held next Saturday at the State Veterans Cemetery. (He was known in his state role as Nick, but both Womack and some reference listings refer to him as Nicky.)
Nicky Bacon, Medal of Honor Recipient Dies
“The State of Arkansas and the United States of America has lost a true hero.” Third Congressional District Republican nominee Steve Womack used those words to describe his friend and fellow veteran Nicky Bacon, Medal of Honor Recipient, who died from a lengthy illness early Saturday morning.
“Nicky was not only one of America’s great heroes, he was a very good friend and our nation grieves with his family today as we mourn his passing,” said Mayor Womack.
Bacon, 64, was one of the few surviving Medal of Honor recipients—having earned the nation’s highest award for valor while serving in the United States Army in Viet Nam. On August 26, 1968, then SSG Bacon assumed command of his platoon—and then another—as he led an attack against a dug-in enemy attacking a unit of the First Cavalry Division near Tam Ky, Viet Nam.
Bacon also served a number of years as Director of Veterans Affairs in Arkansas and was former President of the Medal of Honor Society.
Details concerning services for Bacon will be released once completed. It is expected that a memorial service is planned for next Saturday.
Less than a hundred Medal of Honor recipients are still living. "Nicky was a soldier of remarkable courage and leadership and those values are what define patriotism and are at the very core of the freedom we enjoy in America."
STATE NEWS RELEASE
PASSING OF NICK BACON, CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT AND FORMER ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS DIRECTOR
Nick Bacon, U.S. Army First Sergeant Retired, and Arkansas' last living recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor died this morning, July 17, 2010, at the age of 64 after a long fought battle with cancer.
He served in the United States Army from 1963 to 1984 and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Nixon for his heroic efforts west of Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam on August 26, 1968 while serving as Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army’s 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. During his second tour of duty, for which he volunteered, Squad Leader Bacon took charge of two platoons of Company B after their platoon leaders and several soldiers fell wounded. He fought off enemy positions as he led his men forward to rescue those trapped at the front. On his first tour of duty, he narrowly survived a helicopter crash. He tried to serve a third tour, but was refused. Nick also received the Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, and Purple Heart.
Nick Bacon was appointed Director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs in April, 1993 by Governor Jim Guy Tucker. He was re-appointed by Governor Mike Huckabee and served until February, 2005. Mr. Bacon was essential in the development of the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery and the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery Beautification Foundation. A staunch supporter of veterans, he also helped to establish the Arkansas Veterans’ Coalition.
Nicky Daniel Bacon was born November 25, 1945 in Caraway, Arkansas to a farm family of six children. His family moved to Arizona when he was a child. There, at the age of 17, he joined the Army. After retiring from the military, he returned to Arizona and worked for the VA Regional Office in Phoenix. Following a stint working for John McCain’s U.S. Senate campaign, he became City Manager of Surprise, Arizona. He moved back to Arkansas in 1990. He most recently lived in Rose Bud. Nick leaves behind his wife Tamera Ann, several children and grandchildren.
Final arrangements are not complete, but service with full military honors will be conducted at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock on Saturday, July 24, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. Following the service, a reception is being planned. Information about the service, the reception, and parking arrangements will be placed on our web site, when available.
(Full Text of Bacon’s MOH Citation follows)
BACON, NICKY DANIEL
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Place and date: West of Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam, 26 August 1968. Entered service at: Phoenix, Ariz. Born: 25 November 1945, Caraway, Ark.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Bacon distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Company B, during an operation west of Tam Ky. When Company B came under fire from an enemy bunker line to the front, S/Sgt. Bacon quickly organized his men and led them forward in an assault. He advanced on a hostile bunker and destroyed it with grenades. As he did so, several fellow soldiers including the 1st Platoon leader, were struck by machinegun fire and fell wounded in an exposed position forward of the rest of the platoon. S/Sgt. Bacon immediately assumed command of the platoon and assaulted the hostile gun position, finally killing the enemy gun crew in a single-handed effort. When the 3d Platoon moved to S/Sgt. Bacon's location, its leader was also wounded. Without hesitation S/Sgt. Bacon took charge of the additional platoon and continued the fight. In the ensuing action he personally killed 4 more enemy soldiers and silenced an antitank weapon. Under his leadership and example, the members of both platoons accepted his authority without question. Continuing to ignore the intense hostile fire, he climbed up on the exposed deck of a tank and directed fire into the enemy position while several wounded men were evacuated. As a result of S/Sgt. Bacon's extraordinary efforts, his company was able to move forward, eliminate the enemy positions, and rescue the men trapped to the front. S/Sgt. Bacon's bravery at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.