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Crandall Medal of Honor Ceremony - the Details

February 26, 2007

A great day for the Veterans of the Ia Drang Battles, the 7th Cavalry Regiment and the 1st Cavalry Division.  After 41 years, Bruce Crandall recieves a well deserved Medal of Honor.

There are other sites where you can read about the absolutely heroic events that led to this award.  This post will focus only on the ceremony.  This was a rare event and the behind the scenes look may be interesting to folks. 

I'm Hal Moore's son Steve.  Hal Moore was the Battalion Commander on the ground at LZ Xray (video) - the hot LZ where Bruce made the difference.  I wanted to be at the ceremony to thank Bruce.  As a result of his and Ed Freeman's gallantry, I, along with hundreds of other children of Xray Veterans, got to grow up with my father instead of visiting a cold, white gravestone in the Fort Benning Military Cemetary. 

For this, I am eternally grateful and indebted - not only to Bruce, but to all the fallen who gave the last full measure in that horrible fight for survival in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.

 For more info on the battle, click here

President Bush congratulates Bruce Crandall

I'll trace the events of the day so those of you who were not able to attend in person will be able to see what happened beyond what was reported on the nightly news.

To summarize - very professional, top flight ceremony.

We linked up at the Marriot Hotel in Crystal City, VA at 12:30.  Many veterans were able to attend and there was about an hour of meet and greet before we boarded 3 buses.  The busses departed at 1:30 for the White House with a police escort - flashing lights and sirens - that allowed the convoy to punch through the intense DC traffic.

Upon arrival at the White House, each bus was inspected by the Security team and then we lined up to go through the personal security screening.

It was reasonably warm for February, not too bad out in the cold.

Once through security, we entered the White House and were directed to the corridor outside of the East Room where the ceremony would take place.  There were numerous military aides on site to help out.  These officers are all volunteers to get called to functions at the White House in addition to their normal duties.  In this case, they made sure folks got to the right place and did not wander into unauthorized places in the White House.

There was about a 15 minute wait for the doors to open to the East Room where the ceremony would take place.  We sat down at a few tables, continued to chat and listened to some nice piano music that was being performed by a military bandsman.

I'm sitting here with my dad - Hal Moore.

We entered the East Room - again - well organized.  I was struck by the number of military dignitaries who were in attendance.  As you can see from this picture, there were numerous General Officers present as well as the Defense Secretary, the Secretary of the Army, the Chairmain of the Joint Chiefs and the Army Chief of Staff.  Probably other important folks there that I did not recognize.

One of the Generals was Steve Speakes - an old friend from my time in the 3rd Infantry Division - great to see him again.

There were seats on both sides of the room and plenty of ushers to get folks to the right place.

The News crews were all over the place.  They entered the East Room early and were already set up when the spectators came in.

Here's a shot of the podium.  Nice venue for the award with the Medal of Honor flag.  It gave me chills to see the Presidential seal on the podium - this was really going to happen!

Bruce and Arlene Crandall entered the room with their family right before the ceremony started.  I did not think to ask if they had had the opportunity to meet the President before they came in.

President Bush in person.  He really gave a great talk.  It had the right balance of humor and seriousness to provide a balanced perspective of Bruce and his contributions.

Reading the citation.  As a side note, I remember hearing that President Bush's body mass index from his last physical was around 18.  This rating typically indicates that this person is in shape.  You don't get an impression of that when you see him on TV, but this guy looks like a rock.  My BMI is around 22 right now - got to get it down.

Presenting the award at the conclusion of the citation.

Immediately after this and the handshakes, the ceremony concluded and we left the room for the reception.

Hal Moore and Bruce link up in the receiving line - exchanging tearful, hearty hugs.

A few quick words of congrats and gratitude - then the line had to move on.

The reception was first class.  The White House Chef did a superb job - there was plenty of great chow!  I'm sure the Vets in the room would have enjoyed some of the old "C-Rats" just as much!

The reception went until 4:30 or so.  At that point, we headed back to buses and enjoyed another escorted ride through the DC trafffic back to the Marriott.

I linked up with Joe Galloway - always good to see him.  I commented to him that it looked like he had lost weight - he was looking pretty good.

In all, this was a great day.  Even after we got home, Dad would comment every hour or so that this was a great occasion and would be something that he and we should forever remember.

Bruce - thanks again from a grateful boy who was able to enjoy many fishing and skiing outings with his Dad as a result of your courage.

(7th Cavalry Regimental Greeting)

Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

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