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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

Medal of honor: Michael J. Fitzmaurice

MohbookEvery weekday for 110 straight days we will feature a different living recipient of the Medal of Honor. These are the men who have received their nation's highest military honor. Brian is a board member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. The words and photos are courtesy of Artisan Books, publishers of "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty by Peter Collier with photographs by Nick Del Calzo.

MICHAEL J. FITZMAURICE
Specialist fourth Class, U.S. Army  Troop D, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division
Fitzmaurice_86 In the spring of 1971, the 2nd Squadron of the 17th Cavalry was guarding the airstrip at Khe Sanh
in South Vietnam for American planes flying missions into Laos. At about 2:00 a.m. on March 23, Michael Fitzmaurice—at twenty-one one of the older men in his unit—had just returned from guard duty to his bunker living quarters. The North Vietnamese had been intermittently mortaring American positions during the day, but the night seemed calm. Suddenly, the shells started coming in again.

Specialist Fourth Class Fitzmaurice realized it was more than a mortar attack when he looked out of the bunker and saw that a large number of North Vietnamese sappers had charged through the perimeter wire and were inside the U.S. position on a suicide mission.
Fitzmaurice and a buddy got out to the trench that connected the Americans’ sandbagged fighting positions. Enemy sappers were everywhere; they tossed two explosive charges at Fitzmaurice, who managed to throw them back. A third one thudded to the ground near him; figuring that it was about to go off, he threw his flak jacket and body over it. The explosion blew the door shut on the bunker, trapping the sleeping GIs inside, but it saved their lives.
Fitzmaurice suffered multiple wounds and was blinded in his left eye. As the enemy spread out through the area, he figured that the end was coming and that he might as well go out fighting, so he got to his feet. Barely able to see because of the blood on his face, he climbed out of the trench, and as his buddy yelled directions to him, he began firing at the sappers. When a North Vietnamese grenade destroyed his rifle, he knelt down and felt around on the ground for another. Suddenly an enemy soldier was on top of him; he engaged the North Vietnamese in hand-to-hand combat and killed him. Then he found another weapon, returned to the trench, and began to fire on the enemy again. He refused to be evacuated until the fight was over.
Besides the loss of sight, Fitzmaurice’s eardrums were shattered and he had shrapnel throughout his body. He was hospitalized for the next thirteen months. In 1973, out of the service for about two years, he was working in a meatpacking plant when Washington called to inform him that he was to receive the Medal of Honor. He traveled to the White House, where President Richard Nixon awarded him the medal on October 15.

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COMMENTS

wow, no words needed.

My god, you, along with others in the armed forces are true heroes’ and what really make this country great. In the time of need you exceeded all expectations and risked everything to save someone else. Please know that I am not alone in telling you “Thank You” there are millions of us who you have touched our spirits and given us the opportunity to enjoy the freedom this land has to offer. Again, I owe you my deepest gratitude.

Jim Johnson

A very excellent example of what a REAL Soldier is. He is absolutely due all that the US Government will give him, and I hope they have. Eyesite is a tremendous loss for ANY individual.

Specialist Fourth Class Michael J. Fitzmaurice was an extremely brave and courageous soldier. He saved the GIs in the bunker from the explosion and continued fighting even after he was blinded. He gave a good fight to the enemy and overcame them. I admire him for refusing to leave until the fight was over. Another truly deserving soldier for the Medal of Honor. We salute him proudly!

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