Vietnam hero leads Gainesville parade - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Vietnam hero leads Gainesville parade

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U.S. Army Sgt. Gary Beikirch (ret.) was Grand Marshal at Gainesville's annual Medal of Honor parade. (KTEN) U.S. Army Sgt. Gary Beikirch (ret.) was Grand Marshal at Gainesville's annual Medal of Honor parade. (KTEN)

GAINESVILLE, Texas -- Some may argue there is no greater honor than the Medal of Honor for a member of the military.

But if you ask U.S. Army Sgt. Gary Beikirch (ret.) about his medal, he'll say it's not truly his.

"One of the first things you have to understand is that this medal is not about us; it's not about one person who did one thing on any one day. But it represents that there is a different way of living your life, and that's caring for others more than yourself -- no matter what the cost," he said.

Beikirch was a member of a Special Forces Green Beret A-team in Vietnam. His camp was attacked, and was wounded trying to save a fellow soldier.

In turn, a man who Beikirch calls his bodyguard, saved him.

"And he was killed protecting and carrying me, so I've kind of dedicated my life to working with young people," he said.

Beikirch was the Grand Marshal in Saturday's Medal of Honor parade through downtown Gainesville. It was his second time to participate in the parade, and visiting Texas all the way from New York is a trip he said he'll gladly make every year. 

"What we find out when we go to a place, especially like Gainesville, we receive so much more than we ever could have given to anybody," he said.

Braving the unseasonably cold April weather, hundreds of people came out to honor Beikirch and 16 other Medal of Honor recipients.

That's where you really want to open up your own heart and share the warmth you have for them, and then to receive that same warmth back, it's a beautiful experience," he said. "

The parade was followed by a book-signing event and a chance to give these heroes their thanks in person. 

"It's just a privilege that I can call each one of these men and women and their families our friends," said host city president Tommy Moore. "We love them here in Gainesville, Texas."

Beikirch said he hopes his medal reminds others of the sacrifice and patriotism of so many of our nation's heroes.

"It's not for one person, but the millions of men and women who have served and put their life on the line, and said that they are willing to go anywhere at any time to defend our freedom that we have here in the United States," he said.

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