View Full Version : Special Forces Soldier receives Distinguished Service Cross for Vietnam gallantry

02-17-2005, 07:46
More than 34 years after ignoring his own serious wounds to lead a Special Forces team through four perilous November days in the jungles of Vietnam, North Carolina Army National Guard Master Sgt. Edward Ziobron got what was coming to him on Feb. 11.

Ziobron, 54, was presented the Distinguished Service Cross, this country's second highest military decoration to the Medal of Honor, many years after he had been approved for the award.

The ceremony took place in a Fort Myer Community Club room here filled with active and retired Special Forces Soldiers, other admirers and members of his family, including his two sons and his older brother. The Ziobron brothers joined the Army in 1968.

Ziobron is a member of the Guard’s Company B, 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in North Carolina. He transferred from the West Virginia Army Guard to the North Carolina Guard last fall. He resides in Connecticut, where he is a self-employed soil and water scientist. He asked that his photograph not be published because he still participates in sensitive Special Forces operations.

"This is an honor long overdue," said Maj. Gen. William Ingram Jr., adjutant general of the North Carolina National Guard. "This is the kind of quality individual who teaches, inspires and leads our younger Soldiers by his example."

Retired Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, a Special Forces pioneer and advocate since World War II, pinned the cross and eagle suspended from a red, white and blue ribbon on Ziobron for his heroic actions during Thanksgiving week of 1970. Ziobron was a 20-year-old sergeant, a weapons specialist, in the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at that time.

The award was a long time coming, according to people who helped make the Friday afternoon presentation possible, because Ziobron was actually approved for the award in 1971. He said he did not know that until 2002.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Dennis Kranyak, who attended Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Conn., with Ziobron, and Roger Pardo-Maurer, a deputy assistant secretary of defense who belongs to the same Special Forces unit as Ziobron, did much of the groundwork to get the proper recognition for the man who everyone agreed is an American hero.

"Today we're going to make the record right," Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told the gathering that he described as "almost a who's who of who's left in the Special Forces community." Blum has also served in the Special Forces.

Thomas Hall, assistant secretary of defense for Reserve affairs, joined Singlaub and Blum for the presentation.

Ziobron was cited "for extraordinary heroism ... while serving as a squad leader of an American-Vietnamese exploitation force operating deep within enemy controlled territory."

His citation details how he led his team in an assault against enemy defenses, how he used automatic and antitank weapons to disperse the foe, how he refused medical evacuation despite his severe wounds until he could lead his team to an extraction zone, and how he directed accurate air attacks on the numerically superior enemy.

"Wounded in the leg, Sergeant Ziobron crawled forward, tossing hand grenades and firing his weapon upon the foe," states the citation.

"We were driven by the quiet courage and attention to commitment and duty displayed by our mother and father and others who took our lives under their wings," said Ziobron about the values that he and his brother carried into the Army. Their father had served in the Merchant Marine during World War II after being rejected by the Marine Corps and the Army for medical reasons, Ziobron explained.

He also said the loyalty instilled by his Special Forces trainers and mentors helped to keep him going.

"Loyalty and faith demanded and allowed us to exceed the normal and the obvious," Ziobron said. "It is obvious that you are going to die. It's just a matter of how you handle it after that. If you don't [handle it], you die."

Ziobron credited two of his former teammates, Sgts. Chet Zaborowski and Clyde Conkin, with treating his wounds and sustaining him during those four long days.

Others praised Ziobron on Feb. 11 for his contributions to this country and to the Special Forces.

"Ed sets the benchmark with the legacy that he and his comrades achieved in Vietnam," said West Virginia Army Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick St. Clair. "It was Vietnam that made us who we are, and Special Forces is Ed Ziobron. He refused to give up. He refused to give the North Vietnamese Army the satisfaction of winning during those four days."

"There would no doubt be a few more names on the (Vietnam Memorial) wall if it were not for his gallant actions," said Kranyak, who in 1992 began exploring ways to get Ziobron the credit he deserved.

"Problems are nothing more than opportunities in disguise," observed Kranyak about his friend. "In the fall of 1970 in the jungles of Southeast Asia, he found himself surrounded by opportunities, seemingly overwhelming opportunities, and he took advantage of them. Ed Ziobron exemplifies the courage, innovation, persistence, determination and self sacrifice of the American Soldier."

"Ed is a legend in our unit," said Pardo-Maurer, who began cutting through Defense Department red tape three years ago to help Ziobron get the award. The unit's deployment to Afghanistan in 2002 delayed the process, but Pardo-Maurer picked up the hunt when he returned to his position as deputy assistant secretary of defense for western hemisphere affairs.

"It was the least I could do," he said. "Ed did the right thing 34 years ago, and he's still in the service of our country. He's still doing the right thing."

That fact was not lost on a 25-year-old former active-duty Soldier from Spokane, Wash., who had not met Ziobron before the Feb. 11 ceremony, but who came from Walter Reed Army Medical Center to show his respect. Staff Sgt. Josh Olson was on crutches because he lost his right leg after being wounded in Iraq in late October 2003 while serving with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

"It's not every day you get to see a real hero in flesh and blood," Olson said. "He may not be in the history books, but he should be."

Source (http://www.soc.mil/News/releases/05FEB/050216-03.htm)

02-17-2005, 09:57
About time. Remember going to the range with him. Thought it was wierd that he was telling us the difference between the types of rounds. Not how they shoot, but how they feel when you get shot with them. Anyways, glad if FINALLY when through. Thanks P-M!