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09-13-2006

Clarkson Army Cadet Wins Medal of Honor Scholarship

Beikirch will be on Clarkson University's campus Thursday, September 14, to present the Medal of Honor Scholarship to U.S. Army cadet Mickala S. Henson, a senior majoring in Aerospace Engineering. She is from Waverly, New York. The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Educational Foundation, in partnership with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, awards a $3,000 annual scholarship to one outstanding student enrolled in each of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Henson was selected for the scholarship due to her demonstrated leadership performance and potential, as well as strong commitment to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. The award exemplifies the spirit of courage, selflessness, service to country, and pursuit of excellence in academic and military endeavors and extracurricular activities. Henson's application for the scholarship was endorsed by her ROTC unit commander, Lieutenant Colonel B. Scott Hill.

Beikirch was a medic with the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam. On April 1, 1970, he was part of a Special Forces group in Camp Dak Seang, a village of Montagnard Tribesmen and pro-American fighters in the central Highlands when the camp was overrun by thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers. In the early part of the assault, Sergeant Beikirch fired a 4.2 inch mortar. When that weapon was destroyed by an enemy mortar round, he took over a machine gun, covering his Montagnard assistants as they treated the wounded villagers. Seeing another Green Beret go down, Beikirch ran through heavy fire to help the man and was hit by mortar shrapnel. One piece of the shrapnel struck near his spine and paralyzed him. Beikirch got his Montagnard "bodyguards" to carry him through withering enemy fire so that he could treat the fallen villagers. He was hit in the side while giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a Montagnard fighter and then shot in the stomach. Bleeding heavily and barely conscious, he fired on the enemy from a litter as his "bodyguards" dragged him from one position to another. Beikirch eventually passed out in a bomb crater and was evacuated by helicopter. He spent six months at the Valley Forge Medical Center recovering his ability to walk.

The Congressional Medal of Honor was presented to Beikirch by President Nixon on October 15, 1973. He graduated from the White Mountain Seminary in New Hampshire in 1975 and had planned to return to Kontum Province, where he had served five years earlier, to work in a missionary hospital. However, Vietnam fell to the communists before he could return. Beikirch served as a pastor and then earned a master's degree in counseling. He has worked at a middle school in Rochester, New York, for the past 20 years.

The Medal of Honor Scholarship presentation will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the Cheel Campus Center, Barben Room A. The public and media are invited.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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