Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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Vietnam War - U.S. Army

Kenneth Michael Kays

  • Rank: Private First Class (rank at time of action: Private)
  • Conflict/Era: Vietnam War
  • Unit/Command:
    Company D, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry,
    101st Airborne Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: May 7, 1970
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Thua Thien Province, Republic of Vietnam
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. (then Pvt.) Kays distinguished himself while serving as a medical aidman with Company D, 1st Battalion, 101st Airborne Division near Fire Support Base Maureen. A heavily armed force of enemy sappers and infantrymen assaulted Company D's night defensive position, wounding and killing a number of its members. Disregarding the intense enemy fire and ground assault, Pfc. Kays began moving toward the perimeter to assist his fallen comrades. In doing so he became the target of concentrated enemy fire and explosive charges, one of which severed the lower portion of his left leg. After applying a tourniquet to his leg, Pfc. Kays moved to the fire-swept perimeter, administered medical aid to one of the wounded, and helped move him to an area of relative safety. Despite his severe wound and excruciating pain, Pfc. Kays returned to the perimeter in search of other wounded men. He treated another wounded comrade, and, using his own body as a shield against enemy bullets and fragments, moved him to safety. Although weakened from a great loss of blood, Pfc. Kays resumed his heroic lifesaving efforts by moving beyond the company's perimeter into the enemy-held territory to treat a wounded American lying there. Only after his fellow wounded soldiers had been treated and evacuated did Pfc. Kays allow his own wounds to be treated. These courageous acts by Pfc. Kays resulted in the saving of numerous lives and inspired others in his company to repel the enemy. Pfc. Kays' heroism at the risk of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Medal of Honor Recipient Kenneth M. Kays
Medal of Honor Recipient Kenneth M. Kays
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Fairfield, Wayne County, Illinois
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: October 15, 1973
    The White House, presented by Pres. Richard M. Nixon
  • Born: September 22, 1949, Mount Vernon, Jefferson County, IL, United States
  • Died: November 25, 1991, Fairfield, IL, United States
  • Buried: Maple Hill Cemetery Veterans Section (MH) (377), Fairfield, IL, United States

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