Honoring A True American

An American hero has been laid to rest in Texas. He survived harrowing battles with America's enemies in Vietnam and then, with the U.S. government at home. CBS News Anchor Dan Rather reports.

The son of a sharecropper, Sgt. Benavidez won the nation's highest military honor for rescuing eight fellow Green Berets under fire in Cambodia.

In 1968, charging into battle on a helicopter, he fought off the North Vietnamese for eight hours. Shot eight times, and nearly given up for dead Benavidez survived, with a punctured lung and shrapnel in his heart.

It took 13 years, before he was cleared to receive the Medal of Honor in 1981.

Two years later, he was back in Washington to fight the Social Security administration, which planned to cut off his disability payments as part of a cost-cutting campaign.

"There's been a gross injustice done to me. I feel ashamed. My integrity and the integrity of the U.S. Medical Corps and the army has been insulted," said Benavidez.

He appealed the cutoff and won. The government said from then on, disability reviews would be more humane and compassionate.

At his funeral Thursday, his buddies called him a good friend and a real flesh and blood hero.

Somebody once told Roy Benavidez his one-man rescue mission was extraordinary. He replied, "No, that's duty."

Sgt. Roy Benavidez, dead at 63.

Reported By Dan Rather
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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