He is one of the most decorated soldiers in international combat in American history but few people know, or remember his name.
Joe Ronnie Hooper, a native South Carolinian, joined the military when he was 19 years old. He was deployed with the 501st Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, popularly known as the Delta Raiders in 1966. During his two tours of duty in Vietnam, Hooper killed at least 115 Vietnamese.
Surpassing both Sergeant Alvin York and Second Lieutenant Audie Murphy, Hooper earned 37 medals, including two Silver Stars, six Bronze Stars and eight Purple Hearts. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage on February 21, 1968 in the battle of Hue during the Tet Offensive.
Among his many acts of valor that day, he is credited with single-handedly destroying three enemy bunkers, eliminating the enemy in four more with grenades and killing additional Vietnamese with his rifle and bayonet. He accomplished these feats while he was wounded, refusing medical help until his line was restored.
Hooper retired as a captain in 1972 at the age of 34, one of America’s great heroes of Vietnam as well as every other American war. He died in 1979 of a massive stroke.