The Ballad of Roy Benavidez: The Life and Times of America’s Most Famous Hispanic War Hero

An unwavering patriot alternately celebrated and snubbed by the country he loved, Roy Benavidez embodied many of the contradictions inherent in twentieth-century Latino life.

Lecture Description

In this lecture based on his book, Sturkey tells of the dramatic life of Vietnam War hero Roy Benavidez, a Mexican American Green Beret from a working-class family with deep roots in Texas. Growing up in Jim Crow–era Texas, Benavidez was scorned as “Mexican” despite his family’s deep roots in the state. He escaped poverty by enlisting in a desegregating military and was first deployed amid the global upheavals of the 1950s. In May 1968, while serving in Vietnam, Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez led the rescue of a reconnaissance team surrounded by hundreds of enemy soldiers. He saved the lives of at least eight of his comrades that day in a remarkable act of valor that left him permanently disabled. Awarded the Medal of Honor after a yearslong campaign, Benavidez became a highly sought-after public speaker, a living symbol of military heroism, and one of the country’s most prominent Latinos. Yet after receiving the Medal of Honor, Benavidez was forced to fight for disability benefits amid Reagan-era cutbacks. An unwavering patriot alternately celebrated and snubbed by the country he loved, Benavidez embodied many of the contradictions inherent in twentieth-century Latino life.

CATEGORIES

Latino Latina Military

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