The Silver Star
Thomas E. Blagg was a star of the grid iron here at Arkansas State, prior to his selection as a Distinguished Military Graduate of ROTC. He was commissioned in 1956 and quickly qualified as a Paratrooper and a Green Beret. He served two combat tours in Vietnam, has planned and orchestrated a Presidential Inaugural Parade, and taught at West Point. His most auspicious honor was a Silver Star Citation for Gallantry in Battle:
On August 30, 1965 Captain Thomas E. Blagg, a Special Forces "A" Detachment Commander, was leading a 30-man combat patrol along the Song So Ha River which forms the border between Cambodia and South Vietnam. At a bend in the river, the patrol was ambushed by a battalion-size North Vietnamese Army (NVA) unit from dug-in positions on the Cambodian side. Most lead elements of the patrol were killed in initial contact. Captain Blagg's Vietnamese interpreter was badly wounded. Captain Blagg contacted his Special Forces camp by radio and directed that reinforcements from the camp deploy immediately to a linkup point near the ambush site. He then strapped his wounded interpreter to his back and began to disengage his patrol from the enemy force using fire and maneuver. As his patrol conducted a fighting withdrawal to the linkup point with reinforcements, the North Vietnamese force pursued across the river into South Vietnam. Soon, the fight became very close combat -- hand to hand in some cases. During the fight, Captain Blagg was wounded in the face and his right arm was shattered by an enemy's bullet. Captain Blagg, although seriously wounded, continued to fight his patrol back to linkup with reinforcements. Once linkup was achieved, Captain Blagg reversed the tide of battle by launching an attack into the enemy force, killing many of them, and driving the remainder back into Cambodia. Based on the number of enemy bodies, blood trails, and captured enemy weapons, Captain Blagg's force killed or wounded the enemy at a rate of six to one, despite being, initially, the ambushed force. Not until the battle had been fought and won was Captain Blagg evacuated for medical treatment of his almost fatal wounds. Captain Blagg's heroic actions in battle were in keeping with the highest standards of the American soldier and reflect great credit upon him and the United States Army.