Act of valor led to medals, awards

Act of valor led to medals, awards

By Danielle McLean
Maynard —

Robert R. Lee, nicknamed the “The General,” served two tours in the Vietnam War as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and part of the Army’s elite 11th Armored Calvary Regiment, known as the Black Horse Troopers, between 1968 and 1971. In his first tour he was part of the Army’s M-48 A3 Tank force and in the second, was a helicopter door gunner.

He has earned several prestigious medals including a Purple Heart, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with valor, an Army Accommodation Medal with valor, and numerous Air Medal Awards. He was a member of the Army Reserves for seven years after his time in Vietnam.
Lee has lived in Maynard for 40 years with his wife Angela Lee Cossette, working for the Digital Equipment Corporation for 20 years and then the U.S. Postal Service before retiring in 2008. He is still an active charter member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 116 out of Leominster.

What prompted you to enlist into the army?

 I originally got drafted. Then I was told I would stay home for another six months, so I changed my draft into an enlistment. That made it so for one extra year I could get specialty training instead of infantry training. Back in those days when you are 19 you are thinking, “I think I would rather be on a tank than an infantry soldier.” What did I know? Plus somebody mentioned going to Germany where all the girls are, so at 19 I enlisted for an extra year to make it three years and to get specialized training for armor.

What was the story behind your awards? What do they mean to you?

The Silver Star has always been something that has always meant a little extra to me, mainly because that day will always live in my memory as the day I probably should have got kicked in the butt instead of being pinned on a Silver Star.

Editor’s note: the Silver Star Medal is the third highest award for bravery in the U.S. military.

I did some things that I wasn’t sure I was capable of doing, but I knew I had to do and the outcome was the award. I was on an M-48 A3 tank and we were taking fire from both sides of us. Our tank got hit by a rocket propelled grenade and before I knew it the tank commander was down and severely wounded. Everyone was trying to communicate and we had our radios blown out by a rocket-propelled grenade.

I grabbed my personal weapon and I got help. While I was running to the next tank to let them know we’d been hit I stumbled onto an [enemy] bunker complex that was right in front of me. I decided to start shooting into it.

As the story goes, the guys in the helicopter were watching me with a set of binoculars saying, ‘who is that idiot playing John Wayne?’ For many years I tried to not play that in my mind because I know lots of people that got shot up and wounded that day, including myself. But then I came to the determination that it is something I should be proud of and I am proud of. So I decided to start talking about it and I found that talking about it brought me to a different place in my life.

We all love our country and we all love our brothers and each year around this time on Memorial Day we all remember the ones that didn’t come back.

Can you describe the bond you share with your fellow Vietnam veterans?

The bond is unbelievable. Yearly, we do a major reunion, last year in Orlando. We are all in our mid-60’s now and not a lot of them wanted to go to Orlando, but 1,200 of us showed up there to have dinner together and break bread and remember those that didn’t come back.

The reunion comes up once a year, this year it will be in Indianapolis. But we’ve been in all the major cities across the states. We’ve had 37 actual reunions and it took about 15 years for the thing to get going. Then 15 years later a lot of people still didn’t want to get back into reunion mode, but little by little a couple of guys, then a couple other guys come and are honored. We have guest speakers and we get together and have our time together. We are united.

How important is it for people to think about and honor our veterans?

I hope people don’t forget the sacrifice that these men make. I know I won’t.

How important is it for veterans like yourself to fight and stand up for this country?

In my mind it will always be America first and love of life and the freedom that we share because of all those guys and it will just always go on. The day I don’t see a Memorial Day parade, I hope I’m not here.

One Fund Boston – Please donate

One Fund Boston

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Menino today
announced the formation of The One Fund Boston, the purpose of which is
to raise money to help those families most affected by the tragic events that
unfolded during Monday’s Boston Marathon.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support by the business community and
individuals who are united in their desire to help; The One Fund Boston will act
as a central fund to receive much needed financial support,” Governor Patrick
said. “At moments like this, we are one state, one city, and one people.”
According to Mayor Menino, support from the business community was
immediate. “Within an hour, I had calls from business leaders and local
philanthropists who, like me, were heartbroken by the impact this hideous
tragedy has had on individuals, their families, and friends. And they want to
do everything they can to help these people physically and psychologically in
the future.”

The cornerstone donation to The One Fund Boston is a $1 million commitment
from John Hancock. “John Hancock is honored to contribute to The One Fund
Boston, aiding those who were affected by this terrible event,” said Craig
Bromley, President. “The Boston Marathon is about courage and resilience and
community. John Hancock, which has been headquartered in Boston for more
than 150 years, will continue to stand by our city, the people BostonStrongRibbonof Boston, our
community partners, the runners, and the Boston Athletic Association as we unite in recovery and in renewal of our commitment to the Boston Marathon.”

Other individuals and corporations making commitments to The One Fund Boston include Jack Connors, John Fish, CEO of Suffolk Construction, Brian Moynihan, President and CEO of Bank of America, the Managing Directors of
Bain Capital, Paul Grogan, President of The Boston Foundation, Steve Pagliuca, Co-owner of Boston Celtics and Shamrock Foundation President, Larry Lucchino, CEO of the Boston Red Sox, and Mike Sheehan, CEO, and Karen Kaplan, President of Hill Holliday.

Boston law firm Goodwin Procter has volunteered to organize The One Fund
Boston and is applying for 501(c)(3) status. One Fund Boston, Inc. will apply
for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. Although
the Fund cannot guarantee that the IRS will make a determination that the
organization qualifies as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity, if approval is received
within the expected time frame, the determination will be retroactive to the
date of the Fund’s formation.

“We are one Boston. We are one community. As always, we will come together
to help those most in need. And in the end, we will all be better for it,”
Mayor Menino said.
To contribute to The One Fund Boston, click here or either of the graphics.

One Fund Boston

“Boston is a tough and resilient town, so are its people. I am supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other & move forward – as one proud city.”

-President Obama 4.15.13


Thank you from TEAM USA to America

The team behind the team? That means you, America. And our athletes want to thank you for your support. Whether you added a stitch during the Raise Our Flag campaign, attended a countdown event or just found yourself swept up in the hundreds of inspiring stories authored by the 759 athletes who represented Team USA at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, those athletes want to say …”Thank you, America.” Featuring: Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, Lolo Jones, Alex Morgan, Tim Morehouse, Kelsey Campbell, Kerry Walsh, Misty May-Treanor, Seth Kelsey, Elena Pirozhkova, Jordan Burroughs, Allison Schmidt, Brady Ellison, Alise Post, Brooke Crain, Jamie Nieto, Maya Moore



When an IED explosion took his eyesight in the line of duty last year, Lt. Bradley Snyder of the U.S. Navy could have lost the ability to serve his country. Instead, he learned to serve in a whole new way at the Paralympic Games this summer.

Thank you, America, for standing by Lt. Snyder and so many Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

From Serving in Afghanistan to Winning Gold!
During a tour in Afghanistan last year, Lt. Snyder stepped on an IED and sustained severe injuries to his face. He’ll never see again.  But five weeks after the injury, he started swimming laps. A former swimmer at the Naval Academy, Lt. Snyder knew if he could get back into the pool it would show everyone he was OK.

Part of a Team Again — Team USA
In a matter of months, Lt. Snyder made it back to qualify in seven events at the Paralympic Games in London. And he has said how humbling it was to hear so many supporters like you cheering him on.

With your support behind him, Bradley brought home two gold medals and a silver, as well as a lifetime of memories…


Like being Team USA’s flag bearer in the Closing Ceremony and winning his second gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle on the anniversary of his injury.

A Big “Thank You” from Team USA
The Paralympic Games allowed Lt. Snyder and 19 other service members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces to continue serving the country they love.