Thursday, 21 May 2009 15:20
The City of Glen Cove Memorial Day Parade Committee has named Samuel J. Esposito as the 2009 Parade Honoree. The veteran bravely fought in Vietnam, saving the lives of men in his company during a brutal Tet Offensive battle. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal with “V” for Valor and, ultimately, the Purple Heart.
The Memorial Day Parade will begin at noon on Memorial Day, May 25 and follows the 11 a.m. commemoration and presentations by veterans and local officials at Monument Park on the corner of North Lane and School Street.
A lifelong resident of Glen Cove, Mr. Esposito was drafted into the United States Army on June 13, 1967 at the age of 19. He received his basic training at Fort Gordon, Georgia and went on to Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He went from Private E1 all the way up to Specialist Grade 4 (Spec4) in February 1968 while serving in Vietnam.
Mr. Esposito was deployed to Vietnam in November of 1967 with the 4th Infantry Division, 22nd Infantry, 1st Battalion, Company C. He started off as an Infantry Rifleman and in January1968, he was promoted to the position of a 60 caliber Front End Machine Gunner and Platoon Leader. His detail consisted of putting out heavy firing of machine gun support on the front lines which helped keep the enemy at bay during fire fights.
In April of 1968, in the middle of the Tet Offensive (which was the largest push in Vietnam from heavy enemy attack near the Cambodian Border) Mr. Esposito experienced the worst battle of all. His company, consisting of a mere 100 men, were dug in and engaging in an extensive assault battle of Chu Moor Hill. They were faced with two deeply entrenched enemy machine gun bunkers backed up by a 700 man, reinforced, North Vietnamese Regiment in the region of Kon Tum. They were entrenched futilely for two days straight with little or no hope for survival in sight. At this point almost half of his men were wiped out and Mr. Esposito was loosing all thoughts of ever surviving this horrendous blood bath. With very little morale left and no regard for his own life he manned himself with several hand grenades and asked for cover. He proceeded to bombard the two front end machine bunkers while moving from one place to another and placed suppressive fire from 30 yards away and successfully knocked them both out. This played an integral part in saving the lives of the balance of men left in his company. His bravery in the face of the enemy was inspirational and contributed immensely to the success of his company’s mission.
For this meritorious act Mr. Esposito was awarded the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal with “V” for Valor. Shortly after, during this continuous battle, he himself was wounded and received the Purple Heart along with a cluster for being wounded a second time in another battle.
In addition to the above awards he also received the Combat Infantry Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the M-16 and M-60 Caliber Machine Gun Expert Badge. During his tour he fought in several battles in the towns and cities of Dak To, Play Cu, Kon Tum and Mekong Delta along the Cambodian Border.
After returning from his stint in Vietnam he finished his time at Fort Knox, Kentucky, serving as an assistant to the drill sergeant training new recruits.
Mr. Esposito left for Vietnam with three good buddies and was the only one who came back home, which left him bittersweet about his return. Although proud of the medals he received, (which he does not speak much of), he feels that the real heroes of this war were the 58,000 plus men who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for their country. They are the true heroes who should always be thanked and never forgotten. He will always be proud of his service to his country.
Samuel married Diane Graziose and they have a daughter, Lisa Borgese and a son-in-law, Michael Borgese. They are the lucky grandparents of two beautiful girls, Samantha, age 7 and Ava, age 4.